Press release -

Train fares down 6.5 percent

Virgin Trains announced today that fares on its West Coast route have fallen as a result of the huge rise in the sale of advance purchase tickets.

Recent highlights are:
· The average price per ticket sold on Virgin West Coast services fell by 6.5 percent in real terms year-on-year between March 2005 and February 2006.
· More than 400,000 cheap tickets a week are now available across the Virgin Trains network at massively reduced prices, starting at £7.50 for long distance travel.
· During the last six months the number of discounted tickets snapped up by our customers has risen by a staggering 71 percent compared with last year. Over 107,000 discounted tickets are sold each week.
· Since the sweeping changes to booking deadlines were made the number of discounted tickets sold has risen by 59 percent on CrossCountry and 78 percent on West Coast year-on-year.
· On the London-Manchester route 33 percent of journeys are now made using pre-booked discounted tickets.

Taking into account all journeys made in the last 12 months, the average ticket price-per-mile on Virgin West Coast is 44 pence First Class and 17 pence Standard Class. On Virgin CrossCountry the average rates are 34 pence First Class and 13 pence Standard Class. This contrasts with motoring costs of 44p a mile, according to the AA’s Cost Of Motoring March 2006 report, for an average car doing 15,000 miles a year.

Virgin Trains’ Executive Director, Commercial Graham Leech said: “We have led the way in aggressive marketing and competitive pricing. Our pioneering one-way pricing has already been followed by other inter city train operators and we are now leading the field in simplifying the range of fares, to the benefit of our customers. They have been snapping up cheap tickets and we have more exciting plans to make ticket buying even more attractive.”

At the end of September 2005 Virgin undertook a major shake-up of its book-ahead ticket sales, scrapping the fixed 3, 7 and 14-day booking deadlines with a simpler and more flexible system. Since then customers have been able to buy cheaper book-ahead tickets up to 18:00 on the day before travel. In the first month following the shake-up sales of these discounted tickets rocketed by 40%.

Virgin Trains is re-launching its website this summer to make it much easier for customers to find and purchase the cheapest available Virgin Trains fares. The new display of simplified fare categories will reduce to a maximum of four on Virgin Trains-priced journeys.

Also on the new-look website this summer a trial of e-ticketing will be piloted for journeys on Virgin Trains. For some journeys passengers will be offered the opportunity to print their own tickets in the comfort of their own home or at the office. The initial trial will be on services between Manchester and London and Manchester and Birmingham.

Introduction of new trains, increased services and more flexible ticketing has brought a 34% increase in passenger numbers since 1998 and both companies have hit their best ever performance, now regularly achieving over 90% punctuality.

Advance single fares are excellent value and may be combined with other tickets to give the best price for return journeys. Such low prices have brought the average Virgin Trains single journey ticket price to just £16.97.


For further information contact the Virgin Trains Press Desk.

Notes to Editors

Virgin Trains is re-launching its website this summer to make it easier to find and buy the cheapest available Virgin Trains fares. In doing so, Virgin Trains will revolutionise web retailing within the UK rail industry.

Visitors to the new site will benefit from an enhanced customer experience, a simpler presentation of Virgin Trains fares, launch of the new Saver Half Return product and a more consistent look and feel. Currently customers can be confronted with up to ten different types of fare when making an enquiry, but with the new display of simplified fare categories this will reduce to a maximum of four on Virgin Trains-priced journeys.

A trial of e-ticketing will be piloted this summer for journeys on Virgin Trains whereby passengers will, for some journeys, be offered the opportunity through the website to print their own tickets at home or at the office. Ultimately it is hoped that this will extend to all tickets purchased through the website giving customers another quick and easy method of receiving their tickets. Print@home will be the first initiative delivered of Virgin Trains’ e-retailing strategy.


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