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Will it or Won’t it? Michael Fish Forecasts a chance of Rain for St Swithin’s Day, 15 July 2013

Press Release   •   Jul 17, 2013 13:57 BST

As legend has it, if it rains on St Swithin’s Day it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights.

With this in mind, Virgin Trains commissioned one of the UK’s most famous weathermen, Michael Fish, to advise them on the likely conditions on Monday 15 July 2013.  After much deliberation, Mr Fish forecast there was a chance of rain.

To be on the safe side, Virgin Trains produced special umbrellas to give out to travellers at London Euston and Glasgow Central stations on the day. Some of the UK’s wettest cities lie on the Virgin Trains West Coast route with Glasgow recording the highest annual rainfall. In return for an umbrella, train travellers were invited to make a donation to WaterAid which helps people escape poverty and disease caused by living without safe water and sanitation.

As it turned out Monday 15 July was one of the hottest days of the summer so far, but Glasgow saw some showers, and Virgin trains' customers were happy to grab an umbrella to shield themselves.

In London, the brollies turned out to be quite a hit despite the sunny conditions with customers turning the jolly brollies into parasols.

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Virgin Trains has revolutionised rail travel by creating a high speed, high frequency service that has cut journey times and made rail journeys more comfortable. It has operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997, serving key UK cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Glasgow.

Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group (VRG), which is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach. The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded VRG a franchise contract, which started on 9 December 2012 and will run for up to 23 months. The DfT announced on 26 March 2013 a programme for letting future franchises, with the long-term West Coast franchise expected to start in April 2017.

Virgin Trains has been recognised in numerous awards. In September 2012 Business Traveller magazine readers voted the company the Best UK Domestic Rail Operator for the sixth year running. In 2011 the company was named Best Rail Operator in the Group Leisure Awards (which it also won in 2009 and 2010). In 2011 Virgin Trains won the British Quality Foundation's Achievement Award for Customer Satisfaction.

Customers consistently rate the company the top long-distance rail franchise operator, as measured by the National Passenger Survey (NPS) run by industry watchdog Passenger Focus. In the most recent NPS (Spring 2013) overall satisfaction was 92%, equalling our best ever score from the previous survey (Autumn 2012).

Virgin Trains first achieved Investors In People accreditation in 2007 and this was renewed in 2010; the IIP Gold award was achieved in 2011. In May 2013 Virgin Trains renewed it accreditation against the criteria of the European Foundation for Quality Management's (EFQM) Excellence Model, which it originally achieved in May 2011 The company’s Learning and Development team won a National Training Awards 2011 West Midlands award for its Coaching Culture programme.

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