06/14/2011 AT 06:57
Virgin Trains and the DfT have joined forces to introduce the tilting train as soon as it has completed safety testing, expected in July. The agreement means that the 439-seat train will run on Virgin Trains' busiest routes, and enable more capacity to be provided on other routes.
The new Pendolino will operate mainly on the Birmingham-Scotland and London-Glasgow routes, which have seen growth of more than 30% in the last two years. It will provide 183 more seats than are currently available on the Super Voyagers that serve the Birmingham-Scotland route.
A five-carriage Super Voyager will then be transferred to services between London and North Wales, meaning that some of the busiest trains on the route will now have ten carriages.
The number of journeys on Virgin Trains has more than doubled in six years - from 14m in 2004 to over 28m in 2010 - making it the fastest-growing franchise over that time. The massive growth has led to very busy services at some times, and the additional train will help relieve crowding issues.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond 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 ahead of schedule.
“But this is just part of the Government's plans to increase capacity for the West Coast main line - when all the new Pendolino vehicles and trains are in service in December 2012, there will be 106 new carriages in operation on the line.
“Across the rail network we plan to deliver more than 2,100 new carriages by 2019. These carriages are already beginning to arrive and, by the end of the month, 140 additional carriages are expected to be in service.”
Tony Collins, CEO of Virgin Rail Group, said: “This is exactly what our customers want - more seats and space for their journeys. As soon as the Department for Transport asked for operators to suggest uses for the new train, we didn't hesitate to put forward our proposals. It shows great partnership with DfT officials and the minister that we can bring this train into service as soon as it has finished its testing.”
The new nine-carriage train, which arrived in the UK in December, is part of an 11-carriage Pendolino recently manufactured by Alstom in Italy. Four 11-carriage Pendolino trains are being introduced over the next 18 months. An additional 62 new Standard carriages will also be added to 31 existing nine-carriage trains by the end of December 2012.
Virgin Trains has been awarded two Kitemarks by the British Standards Institute. A first-ever for a UK company, the prestigious Kitemark stamp is one of the world's most recognised symbols of quality and was given to Virgin Trains for its tangible efforts to reduce energy consumption on trains.
A new single-deck car park has been built at Penrith railway station on the West Coast Main Line. The £2.5m scheme provides 30 additional spaces, bringing the total at the station to 125.
Virgin Rail Group (VRG) is delighted that it has successfully pre-qualified to bid for the new West Coast franchise which is expected to start in April 2012.
London 2012 spectators travelling by rail to Olympic and Paralympic sporting venues throughout Britain will benefit from special Games train tickets and extra services.
Virgin Trains has celebrated carrying 250 million passengers on its West Coast services - equivalent to the combined populations of the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany - by handing out free rail travel to 26 lucky passengers.
For the second year in a row, Virgin Trains has walked away with the Best Staffed Station and the Best Customer Care awards, with Crewe and Runcorn stations taking top honours.
Virgin Trains had record sales during the run-up to Christmas, despite some of the worst December weather for more than 40 years.
With Christmas almost upon us, Virgin Trains is urging all passengers to check train times and book seats home in plenty of time as services around the holiday period are already very busy.
Almost 94% of service on Britain's railway during September ran on time, with Chiltern Railways being the most punctual.
Alstom and Virgin Trains have unveiled a new look for one of the fifty-two high-speed tilting Pendolino trains serving the West Coast Main Line.