Virgin Trains on the west coast has unveiled its vision for the station of the future.
In a radical new open plan design, Birmingham International’s ticket office has been transformed, the traditional booking office window now a thing of the past. In their place a ‘Welcome Desk’ supported by service pods for customers wanting to buy tickets, more user friendly information screens, improved ticket machines and touch screen information points.
With more staff presence on the concourse, floorwalkers armed with tablets to assist with onward travel requests, the £1m plus investment has also seen the introduction of wireless charging for customer devices, cashless payment up to the value of £30 at the car park barriers to reduce queues, free station Wi-Fi and the refurbishment of concourse toilets.
“We’ve never been afraid to challenge traditional thinking,” explained Natasha Grice, Virgin Trains General Manager for the West Midlands route. “We are committed to innovation and the ‘Station of the Future’ project is just another example, coming on the back of the launch of Beam, our free onboard content service, the introduction of Automatic Delay Repay and the roll out of m-tickets including our new web to wallet facility.”
“More importantly these changes are being driven by our customers. In the last year alone we’ve seen a fivefold increase in the number of customers using paperless tickets. More and more are now arriving at the station having bought their tickets.”
Simon Greaves, Virgin Trains Station Manager at Birmingham International added, “With less reliance of the traditional booking office, with the support of our team at International, this new approach is about how we make the best use of our people, backed by the very latest in new technology for the benefit of our customers. We want to make it as easy as possible for them.”
Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP was on hand to formally open the new facility.
‘I was delighted to have the opportunity to officially open Virgin’s new ‘Station of the Future’ at Birmingham International Railway Station in my constituency of Meriden,” she commented. “ I am certain that the new and improved ticketing facilities and more accessible concourse will not only improve the experience of rail passengers travelling to and from the station, but will also encourage more people to make journeys by rail.
‘Virgin Trains has a strong reputation for providing its customers with an outstanding service, and I am delighted to welcome further investment in this important regional transport hub”.
The project was made possible thanks to the support of a number of local businesses including architects AHR, main contractors Overbury and Infotec, manufacturers of the 96” TFT screens, the largest ever made by the Ashby based electronic display systems specialists. Ian Whitehead Contract Furnishing also oversaw the construction of the stylish new furnishings with Mace in charge of the overall project management.
Notes to Editors
Over 6.5millions journeys are made to and from Birmingham International each year. In the last two years transactions made through the ticket office have fallen to from 50% to 40%.
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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