Press release -

Rail passenger still missing out on Value fares

Rail passengers still missing out on Value fares….Virgin cheap ticket bought every two-and-a-half seconds… but 10,000 go unsold every day!

Virgin Trains ‘binmen’ were in Coventry today as part of a major campaign to make rail fares more transparent and also raise awareness of the value for money of rail travel. They also highlighted that on some days Virgin Trains wastes up to 10,000 cheap tickets across the country because they are not bought. That could mean some passengers are paying more than they need to for their train travel.

Prices for Value Advance single fares from Coventry start from just £8 (to Oxford) and from £12 to selected South Coast destinations. Standard Value Advance single fares from Coventry to London start from £10, with First Class Value Advance single fares starting at £29.50.

During the promotion at Coventry’s busy railway station, a lucky dip gave away ‘top tips’ cards for getting a bargain rail ticket. Some of the cards were also winners with pairs of First Class rail travel tickets on offer and a mega-prize of a months unlimited First Class travel on Virgin Trains for two.

Following a report by the Commons Transport Committee, which stated that “fares structures are chaotic and pricing absurd”, Virgin is kick-starting a campaign to communicate its clear pricing of fares. In fact, despite the widely-held opinion that travelling by train is more costly than other modes of transport such as flying or by car, there is widespread availability of cheap, value-for-money tickets.

Buying a ticket for travel with Virgin Trains is now simplicity in itself. Following the switch-on of a new website, prospective passengers are presented with the cheapest advance purchase - or walk-up - fares which are available for the journey and at the time of their choice. No longer are all fares shown, irrespective of whether they are available or not.

In a separate development, passengers who are unable to but a Virgin Advance ticket for both the outward and return journeys, or want flexibility on one leg of the journey, are now able to mix and match ticket types and buy a Saver Half Return (at half the price of a Saver Return) for one leg of the journey. This money saving facility is available to website bookings only.

There is still a perception that rail fares are expensive and a recent survey by watchdog Passenger Focus revealed that only 58% of rail passengers using Virgin Trains services felt they were getting value for money.

Contrary to these passenger perceptions, Virgin Trains releases an average of 50,000 Value Advance tickets every day. Many of these heavily discounted tickets can be bought up to 1800 the day before travel. These tickets already sell at the rate of one every two-and-a-half seconds! And the Value Advance ticket range starts from under £10 single!

On Value Advance tickets, a recent issue of Industry magazine RAIL said: “For passengers the savings to be had are huge - literally a three-figure sum in many instances.. There are some fantastic deals out there to be had ”

However, research shows that around 20% of these tickets are going unsold, meaning some rail passengers are paying more than they need to. Many other people, unaware of the bargain tickets available, are simply not making the journeys to see friends, families and for other leisure activities that they would like to.

Virgin Trains has always taken steps to making ticket-buying cheaper and simpler, having been the first train operator to introduce one-way tickets, introducing the simplest rail website to ease ticket-buying and working with the consumer group, Passenger Focus, to produce leaflets on buying cheap tickets. Furthermore, Virgin is also intending to extend the trail of a brand new e-ticketing system - print@home.

Virgin Trains Commercial Director, Graham Leech, explains: “We’re committed to providing a high-quality, value-for-money service to our customers, but with around 10,000 Value Advance fares left unsold every day, it’s clear that many of our passengers, and potential passengers, are still unaware of how much they could be saving. In reality, passengers can travel on Virgin Trains cheaply and in comfort thanks to our Value Advance tickets.

“We want to show people how to find the best value tickets available and how easy it really is to book, particularly online. More importantly, travel by train is also environmentally friendly. We know that our people care about the environment and they can travel with us in the knowledge that by choosing to travel by train, they are doing their bit to save the planet and reduce consumption of energy. Our Pendolino trains emit at least 76 per cent less CO2 than cars and planes, so the message is Go Greener, Go Cheaper and travel with Virgin Trains.”

The simplification of the Virgin Trains website has been praised by Passenger Focus. Chief Executive Anthony Smith said: “There are some great deals on fares out there, but many passengers are telling us that the current ticketing system is too complicated to navigate. There is a clear need to simplify the way tickets are sold to help passengers take advantage of the cheaper tickets. Any move to simplify websites is a step in the right direction.”

- Ends –

Further information - Media Contacts

For further information, please contact Vicky Hayes or Jon Clarke at Seal Communications, by phone on 020 7953 4030, or email at or contact the Virgin Trains Press Desk.

Notes to Editors

Ø Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group and operates two rail franchises - West Coast Trains and CrossCountry Trains. Both franchises commenced in 1997. Virgin Rail Group is bidding to win the New Cross Country franchise which is due to start in November 2007. Virgin Group and Stagecoach Group are also bidding to win the Inter City East Coast franchise.

Ø Virgin Rail Group is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach.

Ø The simplified fares range will be displayed for all fares which are set by Virgin Trains. Fares set by other train operators will not be displayed in the simplified format.

Ø The Saver Half Return ticket can only be purchased in conjunction with another ticket. It can be used for one leg of a return journey where another ticket for the other leg of the journey is bought at the same time. The Saver Half Return is only available for bookings made at

Ø Railcard holders can obtain further discounts on Value Advance fates.

Ø Booking a Value advance ticket cannot be easier. Go online at , call Virgin Trains telesales on 08457 222 333 or visit your local staffed railway station.

Ø In a bid to make finding these cheap fares easier for everyone, Virgin Trains has devised the ‘Five B’s of Train Travel’:

· Book in advance: the cheapest tickets are always reserved for advance purchases, which generally go on sale up to 12 weeks in advance.
· Be flexible: consider trains that leave earlier or later than your first choice; and remember it’s not only standard class tickets that are discounted. Travel off-peak and there are many cheap first class tickets available too.
· Bargain hunt: even for last-minute trips, many train operators now make some cheap tickets available up to 18:00 the day before travel so keep an eye on the operators’ websites to find eleventh-hour bargains.
· Buy smart: if you have a railcard such as a Young Person’s, Family or Senior Citizen’s, make sure you check whether it can be used on the journey you’re taking.
· Be Saver-savvy: if you can’t buy an advance ticket, consider travelling off-peak on a Saver ticket, which offer a saving on the full price if you can travel outside peak times.


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