Stagecoach Group will hand back operation of the East Coast Main Line to the government, the train operator has said. The organisation, which has run the franchise in partnership with Virgin Trains since 2015, said it had been advised an “operator of last resort” would be appointed to run the London to Edinburgh service.
Virgin Trains has launched its brand new services to London from Sunderland and Stirling. The new services have been launched in response to demands from both business and leisure customers who have been calling for more early morning departures that will give them a longer day in London. Business, civic and community leaders joined Virgin Trains on-board both inaugural services this morning, with the new Sunderland service being met at London King’s Cross Station by the UK rail minister, Claire Perry, who named the Virgin Train ‘Spirit of Sunderland’.
Virgin Trains has announced it has created a brand new ale christened ‘Hop on Board’, available to those on east coast routes. To coincide with its launch, Virgin is trialling a brand new glass – the ‘Hoptimist’ pint glass - that is forever “half full” to celebrate the new beer’s arrival.
Virgin Trains has confirmed that it will launch additional services on its popular route between Leeds and London King’s Cross. Customers in Leeds will see an additional 09:40 departure on Saturday’s starting this weekend of October 17th. The new service will also call at Wakefield Westgate and arrives at London King’s Cross at 11:51.
Virgin Trains East Coast has reached its 100th day operating long distance cross border rail services on the East Coast Main Line. Since its launch on March 1st 2015, Virgin Trains East Coast has operated 13,834 services and carried more than 4.3 million customers.
The first Virgin Trains Pendolino to have one of its First Class carriages converted to Standard is now in service. The train, which also received a major interior refresh and a deep clean as part of the work, marks the first of the 21nine-car Pendolinos to have a carriage converted.
The Competition & Markets Authority has raised concerns over the operation of the East Coast franchise, which is due to be handed back to private hands after five years under government control. The organisation reviewed whether competition concerns could arise given the coach and rail services already operated by Stagecoach Group, which is due to take over control of the line alongside partner Virgin Rail.
A joint venture between Stagecoach Transport and Virgin Rail has been awarded the franchise for the East Coast mainline. The firms have agreed to invest £140 million in the route over eight years, and will pay the government £3.3 billion for the contract. The deal will be finalised pending the successful completion of a standstill period of at least ten days.
Virgin Trains has revealed the results of one of the most extensive pieces of customer research ever undertaken by the travel operator – and has used the results to determine investment priorities for the new franchise. Customers were asked to name their top priorities for an ‘ideal customer experience’, from booking a journey and on-board experience through to arrival.
A new deal for rail services on the West Coast Main Line that will bring thousands more seats, free wi-fi and pave the way for new journeys on the route has been awarded to Virgin, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced. The direct award contract will run for two years and nine months and see the train operator continue to provide vital passenger journeys between London, Scotland and Wales as the government forges ahead with its multi-billion pound investment to improve and maintain our railways.
Virgin Rail Group has issued a demand that millions of pounds of customer-focussed improvements be made by Network Rail to compensate customers for poor punctuality in recent months. VRG, the owning group of Virgin Trains, is also preparing enforcement action to bring punctuality improvements, following sustained poor performance by Network Rail, which VRG believes is a breach of contract and has deterred some customers from travelling and damaged its business.