Virgin Trains adds 22,000 seats and 42 services to Edinburgh-London route
- Eight new Edinburgh-London services per weekday
- Services every half an hour for most of the day
- Booking horizon extended from 12 to 24 weeks
- Thousands of £25 fares released to celebrate 25 services a day from May 16
Virgin Trains has been given permission to introduce 42 new services a week between Edinburgh and London this May, boosting seat capacity by 22,000 a week on the route - that’s an increase of 14%.
Customers travelling between the capitals will see four new services daily in each direction from May 16, ensuring a half-hourly frequency throughout most of the day. Two additional services will be added on Sundays.
The timetable boost is expected to lead to an upsurge in cross-border travel and comes as Virgin Trains undergoes a £21m refurbishment of its fleet – including brand new leather seats in first class, new standard class seating, carpets and lighting.
Tickets for the new services will go on sale later this week after the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) approved Virgin Trains’ timetable plans.
To celebrate the introduction of the services, Virgin Trains is releasing thousands of £25 Edinburgh-London fares (in each direction) for the new timetable, which will see 25 southbound services per weekday from Edinburgh. These will be on sale for two weeks from this Friday (19th).
In a further innovation, Virgin Trains is extending the booking horizon during which it is possible to book tickets from the industry standard of 12 weeks to 24 weeks, making it easier to plan ahead for holidays, visits and other trips.
The move has been welcomed by the UK and Scottish governments’ respective transport ministers.
UK Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “This is welcome news for passengers travelling between Edinburgh and London and demonstrates that Virgin Trains are delivering on their commitment to bring extra services and seats to this important route. The UK government knows how important the railways are to keeping Britain connected, which is why we are investing over £38 billion on the network in this parliament. The increase to Scottish services is evidence that this franchise is delivering real improvements for passengers.”
Derek Mackay, Scottish Government Minister for Transport and Islands, said: “This increased frequency of cross-border Virgin services between Edinburgh and London is good news, giving passengers more choice of services and helping to spread the pressure on existing services. I welcome these enhanced timetables, the greater connectivity they offer between Scotland and the south east of England and the benefits that they will bring to the rail passenger experience and economies of locations along the route.”
David Horne, Virgin Trains’ Managing Director on the east coast route, said: “This is a major boost for our customers travelling between Edinburgh and London who will be able to catch a train every half-hour for most of the day. We have seen how increasing capacity and frequency adds to the popularity of train travel and we’re confident that customers will respond positively to these changes. Feedback on our new train interiors, many of which have been fitted out at Craigentinny depot in Edinburgh, has been incredibly positive and customers are telling us they love the fresh, new look.”
More than a million people travel on Virgin Trains’ Edinburgh-London services per year and the route already enjoys a half-hourly frequency at peak times.
The timetable boost comes after Virgin Trains took over the east coast franchise in March last year, promising to drive up standards and attract more people to rail.
Notes to editors:
The new timetable will see four new departures from Edinburgh on weekdays, at 09:00, 13:00, 16:00 and 19:35, taking the total southbound trains to London to 25. The new services previously started from Newcastle.
In the northbound direction departures from King’s Cross at 06:15, 10:30, 13:30 and 17:30 will be extended to terminate at Edinburgh instead of Newcastle, taking the total to 23 on weekdays.
On Sundays, two new services will be added to the timetable, boosting capacity between Edinburgh, Newcastle and London. This will result in two additional Edinburgh-London services, one southbound and one northbound.
The new timetable takes effect from May 16, 2016. Tickets are expected to go on sale from Friday, 19 February.
The 24wk booking window applies to services between London and north of York (eg Edinburgh, Newcastle). It has been in place previously for services Monday to Friday, and is now being extended to weekend services as well.
Contact the Virgin Trains East Coast Press Office: 0845 000 3333.
Virgin Trains East Coast is the brand name of InterCity Railways Ltd (ICR), which is owned by Stagecoach Group (90%) and Virgin Group (10%). Virgin Trains East Coast began operating services on the East Coast Main Line on Sunday 1 March 2015, serving key UK cities including London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness. In November 2014 the Department for Transport awarded ICR a new franchise until at least 31 March 2023.
Virgin Trains East Coast is committed to delivering a high speed, high quality service with new services, faster and more frequent journeys, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. More than £140m is to be invested in delivering improved service and a more personalised travel experience for customers.
Visit the Virgin Trains East Coast Media Centre at: http://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/media-centre for the latest news and images.