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2017-04-25 VIR-001
Virgin Trains

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Virgin & Stagecoach join forces with SNCF for West Coast Partnership bid


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Virgin Trains

Virgin & Stagecoach join forces with SNCF for West Coast Partnership bid
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date
25 April 2017
source Virgin Trains
type Press release



Virgin Trains will partner with the French high speed operator, SNCF, in its bid for the West Coast Partnership. This will see the expertise of Virgin, Stagecoach and SNCF brought together to compete for the combined West Coast / HS2 franchise.

The Government has announced that the West Coast Partnership franchise will run from 2019, that it will include the first few years of operation of HS2, and that bidders must have high speed experience. SNCF, one of the world’s most recognised and capable High Speed operators brings that experience to our partnership. The shareholding for the bid is Stagecoach 50%, SNCF 30% and Virgin 20%.

Patrick McCall, Virgin Trains co-Chairman said: “I’m delighted that SNCF has come on board, and together we will put forward what we hope is the winning bid for the next West Coast, and first HS2, franchise. We’ve just celebrated twenty years of Virgin Trains and this news puts us in the best possible position to make it thirty.

“We’ve always focussed on customers throughout our history, introducing many UK firsts such as tilting trains, automatic compensation for delays, M-Ticketing and free films and TV on-board via our BEAM service. We’re thrilled about the prospect of continuing and improving this record of innovation with the UK’s first long distance high speed network, as well as with our friends and communities along the West Coast.”

SNCF is a global leader in high speed rail. It operates the largest fleet of high speed trains in Europe (nearly 430 trainsets) and, not including Thalys or Eurostar, runs around 700 high speed rail journeys per day in France and internationally at speeds of up to 320 km/h, the fastest in Europe. SNCF has been operating its iconic TGV service since 1981 and in 2013 launched Ouigo, its low-cost high speed service. SNCF’s high speed division recorded turnover of €7.5 billion in 2016 of which 27% was from international operations with 27 million passengers journeying on high speed trains outside of France.

Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, said: "This creates a powerful world-class partnership, bringing together the team which has transformed inter-city rail travel in the UK with the most recognised and capable high speed operator in Europe.

"The new franchise has an important role to play in delivering the improvements and space on our railway that can support our communities and economy. Together, we have a very strong track record of working effectively with other rail partners and infrastructure providers, as well as using cutting edge technology to achieve a step change in customer service."

Guillaume Pepy, Chairman and CEO of SNCF said: “This is a very exciting development for SNCF. We are world leaders in high speed rail. SNCF has a long-standing commitment of working in partnership with British companies, using their local knowledge and sharing our expertise and experience. Today, we are delighted to announce this next step in our commitment to UK rail, working with partners who have demonstrated their own expertise in long distance rail services and are highly regarded in the industry. We appreciate Stagecoach’s widespread expertise across a variety of transport modes and Virgin’s reputation for its renowned customer experience. In partnership, we will deliver a successful HS2 service for the UK.”

Virgin, Stagecoach, and SNCF have already worked together on the first stage of the West Coast Partnership bid, the ‘expression of interest’, which was submitted yesterday. The partners will now prepare for the “Invitation to Tender” which is expected to be issued by the end of the year.
Ends.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Virgin Trains Press Office: 0845 000 3333
SNCF: Press Office Paris - Gaëlle le Ficher +33 185 07 86 58
Citigate Dewe Rogerson - Toby Moore, Agnès Riousse 0207 638 9571

Notes to Editors:

About Virgin Trains:

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.

The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested £21m to completely revamp our existing fleet and customers can now benefit from 42 additional services (22,000 extra seats) per week between Edinburgh and London. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.

The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

Visit the Virgin Trains Media Room - virgintrains.co.uk/about/media-room - for the latest news, images and videos. Subscribe here for regular news from Virgin Trains.

About SNCF Group:

SNCF is a global leader in passenger and freight transport services with revenue of €32.3 billion in 2016, of which one-third is from international markets. With 260,000 employees in 120 countries, SNCF draws on its foundations in French rail and on its extensive experience as an architect of transport services. It aims to become the benchmark for mobility and logistics solutions, both in France and worldwide. SNCF has six core businesses: SNCF Réseau (management and operation of the French rail network); SNCF Voyageurs (commuter transport in the Paris region, regional and inter-city public transport, high-speed rail in France and Europe); SNCF Gares & Connexions (management and development of stations); SNCF Logistics (freight transport and logistics worldwide); Keolis (mass transit and public transport in Europe and around the globe); and SNCF Immobilier (management and optimization of SNCF property and land assets). www.sncf.com

Damien Henderson Scottish Affairs and Media Manager
Virgin Trains, 5th Floor, Caledonian Chambers, 87 Union St, Glasgow G1 3TA
m: 07739 479 492 e: damien.henderson@virgintrains.co.uk
Oneline MediaRoom http://mediaroom.virgintrains.co.uk


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