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Virgin Trains drivers cycle 200 miles for Yorkhill Children’s Hospital

Press release   •   Jun 05, 2014 16:13 BST

Two Virgin Trains drivers will undertake a gruelling, 200-mile charity cycle ride from Glasgow to Preston this weekend to raise money for Yorkhill Children’s Hospital.

David Singleton and Craig Allan have already raised over £5000 for the Glasgow hospital and hope to pick up more funds along their epic journey.

They were granted bon voyage on Thusrday by BBC weather presenter Judith Ralston, who dropped into Central Station to help with a raffle.

As well as wishing them luck, Ms Ralston also provided a bespoke weather service for the pair, predicting that Saturday’s heavy rain would pass, giving way to a band of fresher, clear air on Sunday.

She said afterwards: “They’ve done incredibly well to raise so much money, especially after they originally thought they would only get £500 each to begin with.

“It’s a great achievement and the money will be very well used.”

David and Craig, based at Polmadie depot, are used to traversing the route at speeds of up to 125mph in the cab of a tilting Pendolino or Super Voyager train.

Their attempt to make the journey by bike on Sunday follows months of arduous training for the epic task.

They are due to set off from Glasgow at around 2am, calling into stations en route to ask for donations, and are scheduled to arrive in Preston around 15 hours later.

The funds will be used towards buying toys and games for ward 4B at Yorkhill Children’s Hospital. These will keep the kids occupied during their stay at the hospital, which can sometimes be months at a time.

Craig said: “We didn’t think we’d get nearly as much as this but everybody just jumped on board. Our friends and colleagues have been really supportive of the whole cause.”

Both drivers have cycled in excess of 1600 miles since January in order to train for the Glasgow-Preston journey and recently undertook a practice run between Irvine and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

David and Craig chose Yorkhill as their nominated charity after their colleague Alister Gillanders, a Glasgow-based Train Manager, took them to the hospital.

Alister’s son Ross (8) was treated at Yorkhill last year and he and mum Pamela praised the care given by hospital staff.

“There are a lot of children in the ward who are unable to get out of bed all day so it’s really important for them to have games, televisions and things that make the day go more quickly,” Pamela said.

“We know that the money raised by Davy and Craig will go a long way at Yorkhill and it’s fantastic that they’ve raised so much.”

Pictured in the photo from left to right are: Iain Black (driver), Alister Gillanders (train manager), David Singleton (driver/cyclist), Judith Ralston (BBC weather presenter), Craig Allan (driver/cyclist) and Pamela Gillanders


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Virgin Trains has revolutionised rail travel by creating a high speed, high frequency service that has cut journey times and made rail journeys more comfortable. It has operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997, serving key UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Glasgow.

Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group (VRG), which is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach. The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded VRG a franchise contract, which started on 9 December 2012 and was initially due to run for up to 23 months. The Transport Secretary announced on 26 March 2013 that it will be extended until April 2017, when a new long-term West Coast franchise is expected to start.

Virgin Trains has been recognised in numerous awards. In October 2013 Business Traveller magazine readers voted the company the Best UK Domestic Rail Operator for the seventh year running. In 2011 the company was named Best Rail Operator in the Group Leisure Awards (which it also won in 2009 and 2010). In 2011 Virgin Trains won the British Quality Foundation's Achievement Award for Customer Satisfaction.

Customers consistently rate the company the top long-distance rail franchise operator, as measured by the National Passenger Survey (NPS) run by industry watchdog Passenger Focus. In the most recent NPS (Autumn 2013) overall satisfaction was 91%, meaning the company has remained unbeaten over nine successive surveys in the long-distance franchise category.

Virgin Trains was awarded certification to the internationally recognised ISO 14001 Environmental Management System standard in January 2014.

Virgin Trains first achieved Investors In People accreditation in 2007 and this was renewed in 2010; the IIP Gold award was achieved in 2011 and again in October 2013. In May 2013 Virgin Trains renewed its accreditation against the criteria of the European Foundation for Quality Management's (EFQM) Excellence Model, which it originally achieved in May 2011. The company’s Learning and Development team won a National Training Awards 2011 West Midlands award for its Coaching Culture programme.

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