The company has already committed to invest more than £40m on fleet improvements with almost £18m invested in the first year, equivalent to the amount its predecessor, Directly Operated Railways (trading as East Coast) spent in their last three years (£17m). A total of £140m will be invested over the length of the franchise to help deliver a more customer focused, more Virgin travel experience.
Highlights of the year include a stylish makeover of existing train stock with brand new exteriors, engines and new interiors being rolled out across the fleet – including leather seats in First Class. There are also new seats in Standard class and new carpets and lighting, all giving the trains a distinctive Virgin feel.
New routes from Sunderland and Stirling have been well-received and in May 42 additional services will be added between Edinburgh and London each week which equates to over 22,000 extra seats per day.
As well as this, Virgin Trains has worked hard to introduce some Virgin sparkle both on-board and at their managed stations with a range of initiatives, from improving the on-board catering offering with exciting new menus and great selections like Prosecco and ‘Hop on Board’ ale, to bringing a touch of class to First Class lounges, working with one of London’s most exciting interior design companies, and free Wi-Fi coming to their managed stations.
David Horne, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on its east coast route said: “This is only the first year of our eight-year franchise but the transformation is already underway. We’re paying more to tax-payers and investing more for customers. We’re committed to great value – including a ten per cent cut in Standard Anytime fares on long-distance journeys to and from London, and are focused on delivering that Virgin sparkle to the customer experience.
We’ve injected a sense of fun into the business - enlisting the views of our front-line people to introduce exciting new menu changes. At the same time, we’re focusing on practical improvements such as over delivering over 500 extra parking spaces across the route and free Wi-Fi for our managed stations.
We’re also counting down to 2018 with the introduction of our state-of-the-art new British-built trains and faster journey times to key cities such as Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. We’ll have more news on these soon!”