- Virgin Trains top of long-distance franchised operators in latest National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) results
- London – Newcastle/East Yorkshire scores 92% satisfaction
- Services score highly for journey time, frequency, and punctuality
Virgin Trains has achieved some of the highest overall scores for long-distance franchised operators in today’s NRPS results, scoring 92% on its east coast route – well above the average long-distance score of 86%. Virgin Trains, which has delivered consistently high scores on the west coast for many years, is now seeing similarly high customer satisfaction scores on its East Coast services following an investment of tens of millions of pounds with the London to Newcastle and East Yorkshire routes scoring 92%.
The ongoing £140m investment in the east coast route is reflected in its scores, with Virgin Trains beating the average for the long-distance sector in 38 out of the 39 measures surveyed by Transport Focus.
Recent timetable enhancements on the east coast route, particularly at Leeds, York and Edinburgh, contributed to high scores for frequency (91%), speed (90%) and punctuality (88%). The London - Newcastle/ East Yorkshire route specifically scored 95% for speed.A new timetable introduced in December saw 12,574 more seats for customers; with Leeds, York and Newark benefitting from 24 additional services – the biggest increase in Saturday services since electrification of route in 1990.
The significant investment made in stations and onboard trains continues to drive customer satisfaction. £21m has been invested in refurbishing the interiors of the east coast fleet, with 93% of customers happy with the train they travelled on the Newcastle/East Yorkshire route and 94% happy with the cleanliness. A further £6m has been invested to upgrade stations with customers able to take advantage of new bike and car parking spaces, refreshed First Class lounges and new waiting rooms, places to eat, shop and relax at stations, leading to a score of 93% passenger satisfaction with Virgin Trains operated east coast stations. Similarly, high satisfaction scores on the west coast route reflect Virgin Trains’ drive to innovate with the launch of Beam, its onboard entertainment portal, automatic delay repay and the extension of the booking horizon to six months.
Focused on delivering even better value to customers, Virgin Trains recently introduced new advance fares which customers can purchase on the day of travel, saving them up to 50% on last-minute train journeys. On the east coast route, more than 40,000 advance fares have already been bought on the day of travel since they were launched in May of last year, generating savings of £1.8m for customers.
David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on the east coast said: “These figures are a testament to our continued investment in services on the east coast and demonstrate that we are continuing to deliver for passengers. More frequent, punctual, and comfortable journeys are a reality for the millions of customers who choose to travel with us, but we’re not stopping there – the introduction of the new Azuma trains will transform customer journeys longinto the future.”
Phil Whittingham, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on the west coast said: “We’ve recently celebrated our twentieth anniversary and I'm proud that our customers still rate us highly when they travel with us. Our ambition is to continue to build on our record of innovation and to revolutionise the way customers travel by rail.”
About Virgin Trains:
Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.
The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.
Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.
On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested over £40m in our existing fleet, including £21m refurbishing the interiors and £16m towards improving the engines of our trains. Customers can now benefit from 42 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2016. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.
The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.
Working together, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors has published a long-term plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, to change and improve Britain’s railway. The plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits to the country and contains four commitments which will see rail companies: strengthen our economic contribution to the country; improve customers’ satisfaction; boost the communities we serve; and, create more and better jobs in rail. For more information go to Britain Runs on Rail.
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