Published 19th March 2012
Virgin’s longer trains will commence regular operations in April providing, they say, an extra 150 Standard Class seats on some of the busiest services on the West Coast Main Line. The longer trains will initially work services on the London to Birmingham route, but as more 11-coach trains come into service they will also operate some of the busiest trains on the Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow routes.
By the end of April they are expected to be running on over 30 services every weekday with the benefits of the longer trains enjoyed by passengers across the Virgin Trains network.
Tony Collins, Virgin Trains Chief Executive Officer said: “Working closely with the Department for Transport we are delighted to be bringing more capacity on to our services. We have listened to feedback from our customers, staff and stakeholders and are putting the longer trains into service where the extra seats are needed the most. The lengthened Pendolinos will provide 589 seats, with over 440 being provided for Standard customers, an increase of over 50% in the number of Standard seats.”
Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said: “Tackling crowding and reducing the cost of our railways are two of the biggest challenges facing the rail industry at the moment. I am delighted that we have reached agreement to bring these carriages into service.
“But this is just part of the Government’s plans to increase rail capacity - across the network we plan to deliver more than around 2,700 new carriages by 2019.”
106 new Pendolino vehicles are being built, which comprises four new eleven coach trains and 62 additional vehicles to convert 31 existing nine coach Pendolino trains to 11 coach. When all of the extra carriages are in service they will provide over 10 million extra seats on the West Coast Main Line every year.
The order for these was heavily delayed by the Government who would not make up their mind and this in turn has meant the Virgin Franchise was extended so they could introduce the new and longer trains.
This followed a plea by Virgin that as they had the experience of these trains it would be better for all if they carried on with the project.
Passengers in North Wales saw more capacity provided on Virgin Trains services from Holyhead/Chester-London last year and this will continue to be provided on the route with the busiest trains continuing to be formed of ten coaches.
The London Skolars are the latest sports team to turn to Virgin Trains to take them to key away matches Virgin has announced.
The club, who play in the third tier of professional Rugby League, are the only southern based club in their division and this means travelling in excess of 4,000 miles this season to fulfil away fixtures. Long coach journeys to and from opposition stadiums often mean that the squad do not arrive back in London until the early hours of Monday morning.
Travelling on Virgin’s 125mph services will reduce the travelling time and also enable the team to arrive refreshed for the match and provides recovery time on the return journey.
Skolars Head Coach Joe Mbu said: “Skolars travel more miles to fulfil their fixtures than any other professional Rugby League club and the long hours spent on coaches undoubtedly takes its toll on the players.
“Players will arrive at destinations more refreshed and rested and I also see train travel as a more sociable atmosphere for the players and will also have huge benefits for the player’s wellbeing.”
Arthur Leathley, Virgin Trains Communications Director said: “London Skolars are the latest leading sports team to recognise the benefits of travelling to key matches by train. Athletes value the space and freedom to relax rather than being cramped up in cars. We’re delighted to have the team travelling with us and wish them well for the new season, I am confident they will reap the benefits of travelling with us, that other sporting teams enjoy.”
Virgin Trains currently looks after the long distance travel for 13 of the 20 Premier League clubs including Manchester United whose Manager Sir Alex Ferguson commented: “I would recommend travelling with Virgin Trains to anyone - it's been first class. The preparation going to London is so vital to us and Virgin Trains is part of our team now.”
Virgin Trains provides a tailor-made service, for large groups, who want to book an entire carriage through to an entire train. It is this flexible and personal approach that has attracted many of the leading football clubs to switch to Virgin Trains for their important journeys.