13 February 2007
Since taking over the franchises in 1997 Virgin Trains has revolutionised its West Coast timetable with 125 mph tilting trains in September 2004, increasing frequency and cutting journey times. Its share of the Manchester to London rail/air market has risen from 38 to 58 percent and annual passenger numbers have leapt from 14 to over 19 million in less than ten years.
On Virgin CrossCountry complete rewriting of the timetable in 2002 and investment of over £1bn in a fleet of 78 modern Voyager trains has seen numbers of weekday services rise by almost two-thirds from 110 to 181. This is attracting more than 22 million passengers a year, up from 12 million in 1997.
Each weekday almost 400 Virgin trains link towns and cities on the West Coast Main Line between London, the West Midlands, Liverpool, Manchester, North Wales and Glasgow and on a 1,500-mile CrossCountry network linking Scotland and northern England with the South Coast and south-west via Birmingham.
And in a valuable environmental contribution, Virgin’s state-of-the-art Pendolino trains are generating enough electricity to power 13, 750 homes for a year.
The 125 mph trains are saving energy and reducing pollution as they return energy to the electrical feeder stations every time they brake. They are fitted with electronic control systems that cause the traction motors to provide braking effort by generating electricity back into the supply system, achieving an overall energy saving of 17 percent.
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