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Virgin celebrates its first year on the east coast

Press Release   •   Mar 01, 2016 00:00 GMT

Today Virgin Trains celebrates its first anniversary at the reins of the east coast rail franchise.

The company has already committed to invest more than £40m on fleet improvements* with almost £18m invested in the first year, equivalent to the amount its predecessor, Directly Operated Railways (trading as East Coast) spent in their last three years (£17m). A total of £140m will be invested over the length of the franchise to help deliver a more customer focused, more Virgin travel experience.

Highlights of the year include a stylish makeover of existing train stock with brand new exteriors, engines and new interiors being rolled out across the fleet – including leather seats in First Class. There are also new seats in Standard class and new carpets and lighting, all giving the trains a distinctive Virgin feel.

New routes from Sunderland and Stirling have been well-received and in May 42 additional services will be added between Edinburgh and London each week which equates to over 22,000 extra seats per week.

As well as this, Virgin Trains has worked hard to introduce some Virgin sparkle both on-board and at their managed stations with a range of initiatives, from improving the on-board catering offering with exciting new menus and great selections like Prosecco and ‘Hop on Board’ ale, to bringing a touch of class to First Class lounges, working with one of London’s most exciting interior design companies, and free Wi-Fi coming to their managed stations.

David Horne, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on its east coast route said:

“This is only the first year of our eight-year franchise but the transformation is already underway. We’re paying more to tax-payers and investing more for customers. We’re committed to great value – including a ten per cent cut in Standard Anytime fares on long-distance journeys to and from London, and are focused on delivering that Virgin sparkle to the customer experience.

We’ve injected a sense of fun into the business - enlisting the views of our front-line people to introduce exciting new menu changes. At the same time, we’re focusing on practical improvements such as over delivering over 500 extra parking spaces across the route and free Wi-Fi for our managed stations.

We’re also counting down to 2018 with the introduction of our state-of-the-art new British-built trains and faster journey times to key cities such as Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. We’ll have more news on these soon!”

ENDS

*£21m refurbishment/£16m engines/£5m re-branding.

About Virgin Trains East Coast

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 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.

Contact the Virgin Trains Press Office: press.desk@virgintrains.co.uk or call us on 0845 000 3333.

About Virgin Trains

Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group (VRG), which is owned by Virgin Group (51%) and Stagecoach (49%). Virgin Trains has operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997, serving key UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. In June 2014 the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded VRG a new franchise until at least April 2017.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. We provide the most frequent long-distance rail service in Europe (London - Manchester and London – Birmingham, both every 20 minutes).

Since 1997, Virgin Trains has introduced over 70 new trains at a cost of £1.5 billion. The service carries more than 34.5 million passengers a year and Virgin Trains employs approximately 3,290 staff.

Virgin Trains customers consistently rate the company as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Passenger Survey (NPS) commissioned by industry watchdog “Passenger Focus”.

Visit the Virgin Trains Media Room - www.virgintrains.co.uk/mediaroom - for the latest news, images and videos. Subscribe here for regular news from Virgin Trains.

Press Office: 0845 000 3333. Company website: www.virgintrains.co.uk.