Virgin Trains has worked with The Fusiliers to dedicate a journey today to those who served their country in the Armed Forces.
The 06.00 service from Berwick to London King’s Cross, was saluted by serving Army personnel and veterans at Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York and Retford stations.
The train, which hosted dozens of veterans and a military band on-board, was headed by Virgin Trains’ “Battle of Britain Memorial Flight” locomotive 91110, one of two of its locomotives which have been dedicated to the Armed Forces.
The Fusiliers’ corps of drums played the popular North East song “Blaydon Races” to welcome the veterans into London King’s Cross station shortly after 10.00 where they were joined by the commanding officer of the First Fusiliers, Lieutenant Colonel Jez Lamb MC, for a short ceremony.
Lieutenant Colonel Jez Lamb said: “We Fusiliers are incredibly proud of our rich heritage. This year, in particular, we remember the incredible deeds of the Fusiliers who served with such distinction 100 years ago.
“I am therefore very grateful to all the staff at Virgin Trains for this amazing gesture of support. The 'Remember the Fallen, Remembrance Journey' allowed us all to honour our forefathers' sacrifice in a very special and unique way. It was especially poignant this week as tomorrow will mark 100 years since the end of the Battle of the Somme.”
David Horne, Virgin Trains’ managing director for the east coast route, said: “Our 936-mile route serves a number of the UK’s Army regiments and the British Army's largest training establishment, Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire.
“Many of our 3,100 staff, or their friends and family, have also served in the British Armed Forces, or continue to serve as reservists. We’re incredibly proud of them, and all of those men and women who have served their country.
“It’s been a privilege to dedicate a journey to them during the week of Remembrance Sunday, and for our train to have received a salute by The Fusiliers at stations across England.”
Virgin Trains’ Andrew Kelman, from Newcastle, volunteered to drive the train as he had served in The Fusiliers from 1996 to 2002.
Andrew, who started driving trains in 2008, said: “It was an absolute honour to drive the train today, and it was an emotional experience as it brought back many memories for me.
“I would not be where I am today without the things I learned serving in the Army, and the salutes we received at the stations were particularly special.”
Notes to Editors
The Fusiliers are a regular and reserve infantry unit that recruits across England and the UK, and is part of the British Armed Forces national defence protecting Britain’s interests worldwide.
About Virgin Trains:
Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.
The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.
Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.
On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested £21m to completely revamp our existing fleet and customers can now benefit from 42 additional services (22,000 extra seats) per week between Edinburgh and London. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.
The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.
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