Thousands of extra seats will be available this summer to cope with a huge increase in demand for travel on Virgin Pendolino trains between Glasgow Central and London Euston.
Three extra trains with at least 439 seats per train will operate every weekday in each direction between the cities on key dates in July, August and September in addition to the normal 13 each way.
The first of the extra weekday services will be introduced on 2 July with the maximum number operating between 27 July and 10 August and from 29 August to 7 September. There are also some additional Saturday services between London and Scotland through Birmingham between 7July and 8 September.
“Many more people are travelling on our trains thanks to the quality of the service at value-for-money fares and the frequency of departures with fast journey times,” said Karen Hattie, the Virgin Trains General Manager for Scotland and North England.
“We expect to be even busier during the Olympics and Paralympics, with people travelling to major sporting events in London and Glasgow. The extra trains will offer at least one departure an hour on the busiest dates and this will be welcome for the growing number of travellers.”
The first of the new daily Pendolino trains will leave Glasgow Central at 0923 on Monday 2 July, helping spread demand between the highly popular 0840 and 0940 departures. From the same date a 1030 train from London Euston will close what would otherwise be a two-hour gap between the 0930 and 1130 departures to Glasgow.
Trains to Glasgow will also leave London on key dates at 1230 and 1430 with additional trains from Glasgow to London at 1540 and 1730.
Four new Pendolino trains with 589 seats instead of the normal 439 have already been introduced for Virgin Trains customers on the West Coast Main Line. The delivery of extra vehicles for 31 of the existing Pendolinos is continuing, adding 150 seats to a growing number of services.
Dr Lesley Sawers, Chief Executive, Scottish Council for Development & Industry (SCDI), said: “We warmly welcome this hourly service during the Olympics and Paralympics as not only enabling Scots to enjoy them, but enabling more Londoners and overseas spectators to visit Scotland while they are taking place.”
Scott Taylor, Chief Executive of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “The introduction of additional daily Virgin Trains services between London and Glasgow is fantastic news and will provide a significant boost to the city’s tourism sector and our local economy.
“An increased frequency of journeys will make Glasgow even more accessible for leisure and business travellers, up and down the West Coast Main Line, during a period when the city will host a number of major conferences and events, including the Olympic Football Tournament, Merchant City Festival, Piping Live and the World Pipe Band Championships.”
Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “We welcome this extension of the West Coast Main Line service over the summer months, including the Olympic Games period. We also welcome the additional carriages as we all know that the growth in demand is challenging the capacity of current services at peak times.
“What all this does is offer more choice to those travelling to and from Scotland’s cities to do business, and that must be good news. We need to be competitive with other cities in the UK and Europe as a business location and as a visitor destination.
“More trains and longer trains on the West Coast Main Line mean that we are becoming increasingly equipped for the needs of 21st century business travel.”
When Virgin Trains started operating the West Coast franchise in 1997, there were eight northbound and seven southbound trains each weekday between Glasgow Central and London Euston. Now there are 13 each way, rising to 16 in both directions on peak dates this summer.
Typical scheduled time from Glasgow Central to London Euston is 4 hours 32 minutes.