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Virgin Trains joins global effort to reduce climate change

Press Release   •   Dec 03, 2015 13:07 GMT

Virgin Trains has signed a pledge to reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to global targets to limit climate change.

The Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge is being presented at the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris this month by the International Union of Railways (UIC).

A ‘Train to Paris 2015’ campaign by the UIC is promoting trains as one of the most energy efficient modes of transport but acknowledges the responsibility of the industry to make further improvements.

David Horne, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on the east coast, signed the pledge. It commits the business to: reducing specific energy consumption and CO2 emissions; stimulating modal shift to rail in national and international markets; actively communicating climate-friendly initiatives undertaken by the company; and reporting data on energy consumption regularly to the UIC.

David Horne said: “As a member of the UIC it is very important for us to make this commitment to help reduce our energy consumption. Though rail travel is one of the most efficient in terms of emissions, we will continue to work with our partners and stakeholders to improve things further and contribute to the UIC’s global targets to reduce and prevent climate change.”

As well as signing the pledge, Virgin Trains has sponsored a group of young professionals to travel to Paris to speak at the summit. Scotland’s 2050 Climate Group aims to inspire young people to become catalysts for change and champions for a low carbon future.

Members of the 2050 group (pictured) left Edinburgh Waverley station at the weekend to join the conference, known as COP21 – the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties – which runs until 11 December.

Chris McGinnis, Chair of the 2050 Climate Group, said: “The 2050 Climate Group is grateful for this demonstration of support and commitment for climate action by Virgin Trains on the east coast. This sponsorship enabled a significant number of the 2050 Climate Group to attend the summit. This is an incredible opportunity for Scotland and for young people to be able to showcase to the international community what can be accomplished by a small group of determined change-makers.”

Other members of the 2050 group will travel to Paris throughout this week courtesy of Virgin Trains. In their presentation they will remind delegates about the Railway Climate Responsibility Pledge.

Churches in Scotland have also joined the campaign to get the 190 countries attending the COP21 summit to take positive action on climate change.

The Eco-Congregation Scotland group have been passing a specially commissioned baton around the country to raise awareness. The baton was given to the 2050 Climate Group in Edinburgh to take to Paris.

Environment Manager for Virgin Trains on the east coast, Jim Harbidge, said: “We are very pleased to be helping our climate change partners get to Paris to represent the industry at such an important summit. We’ve signed up to the pledge to help ensure rail continues to work hard to be a more energy efficient method of transport and to promote its benefits in lowering carbon emissions.”

Contact the Virgin Trains East Coast Press Office: 0116 366 3988 during office hours (09.00 - 17.30 Mon-Fri). Outside these times, and for urgent media enquiries only, please call 08700 005151 and ask for the duty Virgin Trains East Coast press officer to be paged.

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: for the latest news and images.


• Stagecoach Group is a leading international public transport group, with extensive operations in the UK, mainland Europe, the United States and Canada. The Group employs around 38,000 people, and operates bus, coach, train, and tram services.

• Stagecoach is one of the UK’s biggest bus and coach operators with around 8,300 buses and coaches. Around 2.8 million passenger journeys are made on Stagecoach's buses every day on a network stretching from south-west England to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The Group’s business includes major city bus operations in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Cambridge. Low-cost coach service,, operates a network of inter-city services across the UK and continental Europe.

• Stagecoach is a major UK rail operator, running the South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains networks. It is also the majority shareholder (90%) in the new Virgin Trains East Coast franchise and has a 49% shareholding in Virgin Rail Group, which operates the West Coast rail franchise.

• Stagecoach also operates the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield.

• In North America, Stagecoach operates around 2,400 buses and coaches in the United States and Canada. links around 130 key locations in North America. Stagecoach is also involved in operating commuter, transit, airport express services, contracted, charter and sightseeing services.