Virgin Flying Scotsmans launch by Virgin

Virgin's new-look Flying Scotsman unveiled by Scotland's First Minister

Published: 4th November 2015

Flying Scotsman’s latest incarnation - in red

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, has unveiled a new image for Virgin’s “Flying Scotsman” service between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross on the East Coast Main Line.

The reliveried train was posed at Waverley station in Scotland’s capital, ready for the traditional time of 10am on Wednesday, 28 October.

Virgin Trains East Coast operates a four-hour “Flying Scotsman” service that leaves Edinburgh at 5.40am daily, Mondays to Fridays inclusive.

The new image, which is mainly Virgin red, represents the latest milestone in the “Virgin-isation” of East Coast services. The launch is aimed at encouraging more people to travel by train, especially between the UK’s two biggest capital cities.

The event at Edinburgh Waverley coincided with the announcement by Virgin Trains East Coast that the diesel power units of High Speed Trains (HSTs) will be refurbished in a £16m contract.

They said: Nicola Sturgeon said: “For over 150 years the ‘Flying Scotsman’ service has connected Edinburgh and London by the historic East Coast rail route. It is wonderful to see the name of the ‘Flying Scotsman’ train kept alive on the route with a new, contemporary design.”

She also expressed “delight” that the refurbishment of diesel engines will draw on the skills and talents of the workforce at the Craigentinny depot in Edinburgh, where the HSTs are based.

David Horne, Managing Director at Virgin Trains East Coast, said: “We are thrilled to continue the legendary name of the ‘Flying Scotsman’.

“‘Flying Scotsman’ trains brought style to the railways for many years. Our new train is a design twist on the legendary ‘Flying Scotsman’, recreating the glamour of rail travel for the 21st century, using our distinctive Virgin brand.”

Mr Horne added: “The re-livery of our fleet in Virgin red is now almost complete, but we felt we just had to create a unique look to promote our ‘Flying Scotsman’ and travel to and from Scotland. We look forward to welcoming customers on-board and providing them with a great Virgin customer experience.”

MTU HST refurbishment

The £16m deal with engine manufacturer MTU is for the refurbishment of all 35 diesel engines for the Virgin Trains East Coast fleet of HSTs. The engines will be fitted at Craigentinny over the next two years.

David Horne said that the engine programme would “ensure the continued strong performance” of the HST fleet until the introduction of new Super Express Trains from 2018. Virgin Trains East Coast employs 700 people in Edinburgh.

Historic note: It’s a train and a steam locomotive but…

In 1962, British Rail celebrated the centenary of the then “Flying Scotsman” service by introducing a six-hour schedule between Edinburgh and London with Deltic diesel locomotives. The train service is not to be confused with the steam locomotive named after it, a Class A3 Pacific that will soon be ready for a return to the tracks under the auspices of the National Railway Museum beside the line in York.

Iconic steam locomotive

The LNER ‘Pacific’ ‘A3’ steam locomotive No. 4472 was named flying Scotsman with the introduction of the non-stop service in each direction between Kings Cross and Edinburgh. This was made possible with the introduction of a tender with a narrow corridor which allowed footplate crews to cross between the train and locomotive.

Iconic Deltics

The Deltic-hauled services sported a highly visible golden Scottish Thistle logo until the 1980s on the train. When rail privatisation arrived, GNER took the first franchise and were heavily into branding, as are Virgin. They introduced ‘Route of The Flying Scotsman’ strapline and associated logo and this. GNER carried on this branding and won the second East Coast Main Line franchise but Chief Executive Chris Garnett signed off a bid that turned out to be very optimistic and the franchise defaulted.

National Express followed and the same thing happened to them and the Directly Operated Railways, the Government’s train operator of last resort stepped in using its subsidiary ‘East Coast Trains’ to run the business until Virgin took over.

Nest year…

The taxpayer owned steam locomotive Flying Scotsman will start its main line operations in February with a run from Kings Cross to York when its near-on £five million pound 10 year overhaul has been completed. Perhaps Virgin will paint that red as well…………….

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