Britain’s rail industry joined forces today to transport 350 Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes from Manchester to London as part of nationwide celebrations of their Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games success.
The athletes’ journey today was made possible by Virgin Trains, Caledonian Sleeper, GB Railfreight and Network Rail, which each offered their services free of charge.
The Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes enjoyed a celebratory ‘welcome home’ parade on the streets of Manchester yesterday.
Early today they boarded their two trains from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston for celebration events at London’s Trafalgar Square.
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “It is our privilege to help honour our Team GB and ParalympicsGB heroes. They did us proud in Rio. We hope we did them proud today, too.”
Phil Whittingham, managing director of Virgin Trains on the west coast, said: “Team GB and ParalympicsGB are an inspiration to us all, a great example of what can be achieved when you aim high. That’s why we had no hesitation in playing our small part in their richly deserved homecoming celebrations.”
A red carpet was rolled out at Manchester Piccadilly station today for the Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes.
As they boarded their trains the Transpennine Express Choir sung and local school children waved them off.
On board the Caledonian Sleeper serving refreshments to the athletes was Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s West Coast route managing director, who said: “I was inspired by these Team GB and ParalympicsGB heroes over the summer. Serving them croissants and coffee today was a great honour and, frankly, the least I could do.”
Waiting beside the platforms at Euston were 10 red double-decker London buses, to ferry the athletes on to Trafalgar Square.
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 £21m to completely revamp our existing fleet and customers can now benefit from 42 additional services (22,000 extra seats) per week between Edinburgh and London. 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.
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