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Virgin Trains launch services to London from Sunderland and Stirling

Press Release   •   Dec 14, 2015 10:00 GMT

Virgin Trains has today (14 December 2015) launched its brand new services to London from Sunderland and Stirling. 

The new services have been launched in response to demands from both business and leisure customers who have been calling for more early morning departures that will give them a longer day in London.

Business, civic and community leaders joined Virgin Trains on-board both inaugural services this morning, with the new Sunderland service being met at London King’s Cross Station by the UK Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, who named the Virgin Train ‘Spirit of Sunderland’.

The new services mark a major milestone in Virgin Trains’ ambitious plans to transform services on its east coast route, which include a £21million overhaul of its fleet of 45 trains.  More than £40m has been committed to the fleet since the company launched its east coast services in March, when it spelt out plans to invest £140million over eight years. 

A fleet of 65 brand new Virgin Trains will also be introduced on the east coast from 2018. The trains will be built by Hitachi at its plant based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on its east coast route, said: “This is a hugely exciting day for us as we launch more services, and add Sunderland to the Virgin rail map.

“Business and leisure customers have been calling for more earlymorning departures that will give them a longer day in London, and we’re delighted to be delivering on our promise by launching these new services.”

Claire Perry, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, added:

“It is fantastic to see the start of these new services from Sunderland and Stirling. As a one nation government, we know that transport doesn’t just help hardworking people get around, it helps them get on. These new services will provide better journeys for customers and boost economic ties between Scotland, the north east and London, stimulating growth and helping rebalance our economy.

“These new services are further proof that the new east coast franchise is delivering real benefits for customers across the UK. We are also proud that passengers on the east coast routewill also benefit from the introduction of new government supported Intercity Express Programme trains from 2018.”

Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland Council, added: “We welcome this latest investment, which helps demonstrate continuing international business confidence in our city.

“Giving train passengers more flexible, regular travel options between Sunderland and King’s Cross can only be good for the local economy and I hope that these new direct services will become popular.

“An effective transport infrastructure is vital to our economic growth, and we will continue to work with our regional and business partners to provide this.”  

Johanna Boyd, Leader of Stirling Council, added: “Stirling is an outward-looking city and city region keen to connect and to work with the business community, to explore the opportunities that allow them and us to thrive in partnership.

“Our vision for Stirling as a Council is very much about opening up and encouraging new opportunities to create a truly vibrant city and city region, attractive to new players. We will continue to support the growth of those local businesses that have played such an important role in the development of our economic strength to date.

“This new Virgin Trains service, connecting Stirling directly with the UK capital, is very much the kind of ambitious innovation we welcome.”

Virgin Trains is also pleased to announce that from today, it willoperate a new evening service between Hull and Doncaster. The new service will open up new travel opportunities for customers seeking to travel to London.


Sunderland to London

Sunderland dep: 05:40

London King’s Cross arr: 09.08


Stirling to London

Stirling dep: 05:26

London King’s Cross arr: 10.52


Hull to Doncaster

Hull dep: 20:28

Brough dep: 20:42

Selby dep: 21:03

Doncaster dep: 21.22

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.