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Railhub Archive
2001-05-06 VIR-002
Virgin Trains


New dawn for Virgin Trains

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Virgin Trains

New dawn for Virgin Trains

5 June 2001
source Virgin Trains
type Press release

Sir Richard Branson and Brian Souter joined in the election fever today by issuing their own Pledge Card to create a new dawn for rail travel in the UK. Their pledge came at the official London inauguration of Virgin CrossCountry’s new Voyager trains into passenger service.

The Virgin Trains’ pledges for its two franchises are:

o To scrap all existing Virgin trains

o To introduce 820 brand new rail coaches

o To facilitate £2 billion of investment in new trains and maintenance

o To bring tilting trains back to the UK after twenty years

o To introduce the first 140 mph trains into the UK

o To double train frequency on Virgin Trains

Sir Richard Branson and Brian Souter named the inaugural train ‘New Dawn’, before joining it for a special run to Oxford.

Sir Richard said at the ceremony, “This new train is the first piece in a very complex jigsaw. I name it New Dawn as a symbol of my commitment to the future of rail in the UK. My vision for a rail renaissance has remained unshaken since 1997. Five years - and over £2 billion – later, I still believe in this vision despite all the set-backs and frustrations. Today the new dawn has arrived and people can experience it for themselves.”

Stagecoach Chairman Brian Souter said: “This is a historic day for us all at Virgin Trains. We are pledging to consign our old trains to the scrapheap and we will be taking delivery of 820 new coaches over the next two years – that’s on average a new train every week. If that doesn’t bring a new dawn for rail, I don’t know what will”.

The 125 mph Voyager fleet, built by Bombardier Transportation and inaugurated today, is now being delivered to the CrossCountry route. This is the first time in railway history that CrossCountry passengers have benefited from a new train fleet. CrossCountry is the only national train operator, so these new trains will be visible across the nation from Aberdeen to Penzance.

The Voyager trains are kick-starting Virgin’s rail renaissance and are being introduced initially on the Birmingham – Reading – Brighton route to beat heavy road congestion in the area. They will carry passengers on a local shuttle service between Birmingham and Reading and from July 22nd they will become part of the Birmingham-Brighton timetable.

From this autumn production of the new trains will increase with one new train being delivered every week and these will gradually take over existing services up to the end of 2002.

A radical new timetable will be launched in September 2002 which will double the number of CrossCountry train services and deliver the first clockface timetable across the UK. This will benefit passengers from Scotland to Wales, the West of England and the South Coast.

Taking Birmingham-Reading as an example, from 2002 the Voyager will slash journey times by over 20%, from 1 hr 50 minutes to 1 hrs 27 minutes. The number of trains between Birmingham and Reading will increase from the current 18 to 41 each day.

The Voyager train fleet offers a radically different travel experience to the old trains including:

o Airline-style audio entertainment at every seat - with the capability of up to ten different channels.

o A new electronic seat reservation system that will allow last minute bookings.

o An on-board shop to replace the old-style buffet. This will offer a far more flexible range of merchandise including newspapers, magazines, gifts and audio headsets.

o Full achievement of the new European legislation for disabled access including wide doorways, larger toilets, priority seating areas and new audio-visual information systems

Railhub Archive ::: 2001-05-06 VIR-002


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