Virgin Trains Factsheet March 2009






Full text


Ownership and structure

Virgin Trains is jointly owned by Virgin Management (51%) and Stagecoach plc (49%). The two shareholders manage Virgin Trains through a joint board called Virgin Rail Group.

Virgin Rail Group currently holds the West Coast passenger rail franchise, which it operates as West Coast Trains Ltd. under the brand name Virgin Trains.

Facts and figures

Virgin Trains operates the West Coast rail franchise. This was originally awarded to Virgin Rail Group (VRG) on 19 February 1997 for a 15-year term. Operations began on 9 March 1997.

VRG announced on 13 December 2006 that it had agreed formal terms for a restated contract with the Department for Transport (DfT) for the franchise. The franchise deal will run until March 2012, replacing the Management Agreement (Letter Agreement 2002) which had been in place since July 2002 following the collapse of Railtrack plc.

Virgin Rail Group was awarded the Cross Country franchise on 28 November 1996 and operations began on 5 January 1997. Virgin CrossCountry ran for over 10 years. As part of its franchise re-mapping, the DfT re-tendered the franchise in revised form and awarded it to Arriva Trains on 10 July 2007. Arriva began operating the franchise on 11 November 2007. The franchise re-mapping also involved the transfer of services between Birmingham and Scotland (via Preston and Carlisle) to Virgin Trains from 11 November 2007.

Virgin Trains achieved Investor in People accreditation in 2007.

Virgin Trains introduced a new timetable from 14 December 2008, offering more trains and faster journey times. Train services overall increased by 30 percent following Network Rail’s £9bn upgrade of the West Coast Main Line. The routes from Manchester and Birmingham to London Euston saw train frequencies increased to every 20 minutes, comparable with many local commuter routes, and average journey times in the case of Manchester slashed to as little as 2 hours 05 minutes.

Further improvements from 16 February 2009 included an hourly service between Chester and London. The 16:30 London Euston to Glasgow Central service is now timetabled to complete the 401-mile journey in just 4 hours 10 minutes, the fastest journey time we’ve ever regularly run between the two cities.

Virgin Management

Sir Richard Branson 51%

Stagecoach plc

Brian Souter 49%

Virgin Rail Group Holdings Ltd Martin Griffiths

Patrick McCall Ross Paterson Will Whitehorn Executive Directors

Tony Collins, Chief Executive Officer

Chris Gibb, Chief Operating Officer


Scale of operation

Staff (December 2008) Drivers 549 Onboard staff 1261 Station staff 837 Other staff 635 Total staff 3282

Trains operated a day (weekday) 333

Train miles a year 14.53m

* Passengers a year 22.574m

^ Passengers a day 62,187

Stations served 43

Parliamentary constituencies served 48

* passenger journeys in the year ended 28 February 2009 ^ average (annual journeys divided by 363 days of operation)

Trains and routes

We operate a mixed fleet of tilting trains: electric Pendolino trains and diesel Super Voyager trains. They are fully air-conditioned.

Investment in trains by Virgin Trains was £1.2bn for Pendolinos and £1.06bn for Voyagers, but note that the Voyager figure relates to the full fleet, including the trains subsequently transferred to Arriva on 11 November 2007.

Pendolinos Super Voyagers

Maximum speed 125 mph 125 mph

Number of trains 52 21

Power Electricity (overhead) Diesel

Coaches per train 9 18 five-car trains and

3 four-car trains

Coaches in total fleet 468 102

Seats per train – Standard 294

+ 2 wheelchair spaces Four-car trains: 160 + 1 wheelchair space Five-car trains: 200 + 1 wheelchair space Seats per train – First Class 145

+ 1 wheelchair space

26 + 1 wheelchair space (four and five-car trains)


Pendolinos were built by Alstom between 2001 and 2004 in Birmingham. They are maintained by

Alstom, working closely with Virgin Trains at depots in Wembley (north London), Oxley (Wolverhampton), Edge Hill (Liverpool), Longsight (Manchester) and Polmadie (Glasgow).

Super Voyagers were built by Bombardier in 2002 in Wakefield. They are maintained by Bombardier,

working closely with Virgin Trains, at a main depot at Central Rivers (between Tamworth and Derby) or, for light maintenance, at Polmadie (Glasgow), Allerton (Liverpool) or Crewe.

Route Pendolinos Super Voyagers

A London - Birmingham - Wolverhampton All services No services

B London - Manchester via Stoke-on-Trent or Crewe All services No services

C London - Crewe -Liverpool All services No services

D London & the West Midlands - Chester & North Wales No services All services

E London - the North West & Scotland All services No services



Virgin Trains serves 43 stations. Of these we directly operate 17: Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport, Runcorn, Wigan North Western, Warrington Bank Quay, Preston, Oxenholme Lake District, Lancaster, Penrith North Lakes, Carlisle.

First Class travellers can relax in the quiet, stress-free environment of our First Class lounges, with free hot and cold drinks, snacks, daily newspapers and electronic departure information. WiFi is available in all our First Class Lounges.

The First Class lounges can be found at: London Euston (re-opens Spring following improvements), Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Coventry, Liverpool Lime Street (opens Spring 2009), Manchester Piccadilly, Runcorn, Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolverhampton.

Journey times / frequency – a selection

Journey to/from London

Euston Trains per weekday Fastest (hrs:mins) Average/typical (hrs:mins)

Birmingham New Street 51 1:11 1:22

Liverpool Lime Street 18 2:01 2:07

Manchester Piccadilly 46 1:58 2:05

Holyhead 5 3:38 3:38

Carlisle 13 3:12 3:26

Glasgow Central 13 4:10 4:32

Onboard facilities

All trains have an onboard Shop; enhanced mobile phone reception; power points for charging mobile phones and laptops; full public address throughout the train; a QuietZone; and facilities for mobility impaired customers.

Wi-Fi facilities are due to be introduced from Spring 2009.

For safety and security all trains are fitted with CCTV recording equipment.


First Class is a stylish travel option offering an array of complimentary food and drink served at-seat: Breakfast, Light Bites during the day and in the late evening, and Evening Meal on weekdays.

The First Class menu is sourced entirely from British produce, which can be traced from farm to plate. Traditional English sausages, Welsh beef, Scottish beef and high quality British cheese are amongst the highest quality ingredients from the highest quality producers.

Breakfast: The highest quality pork sausages, from outdoor reared pigs, made with fresh herbs and natural casings, form part of the Breakfast on all Pendolino trains to and from London Euston until 09:59 on weekdays. The sausages are served alongside outdoor reared sweet cure Suffolk Crown bacon with free range Yorkshire Farm eggs on a potato rosti.


Light Bites: Scotch Rare Beef is also on the menu, as part of a mouth-watering sandwich served with Stilton. The sandwich is just one of the options available on the Light Bites menu, available between 10:00 and 15:59, and after 19:00 on weekdays.

Evening Meal: A selection of cheeses from around Britain is offered as part of our Evening Meal, served on weekdays between 16:00 and 18:59. Additionally, Lockerbie Cheddar, an award winning medium mature cheddar from the Lockerbie Creamery in Scotland is served on malted brown bread with British Bramley apple and ginger chutney.

The onboard Shop offers a wide range of hot, cold and alcoholic drinks as well as tasty sandwiches and snacks. It also sells magazines and other goods.

There is an at-seat trolley service in Standard.


Our Pendolino trains are environmentally friendly, emitting at least 76 percent less CO2 than cars and 78 percent less than domestic flights on average. They also have regenerative braking, which means that every time the driver applies the brakes electricity is returned to the National Grid.

They generate enough electricity each year to provide the electricity to power 11,825 homes for a year, or charge over four-and-a-half million mobile phones. Power returned to the National Grid is enough to brew 2.6 billion cuppas a year.

Further information

Web (for media and students)

Printed material Timetables for each route and a series of leaflets, including titles such as Travelling with Virgin Trains; Your ticket; Passenger’s Charter; and Fares.

Hotline: onboard magazine

Buying a ticket 08457 222 333 (08:00 – 22:00 daily) or Timetable information National Rail Enquiries 08457 48 49 50 (24 hours) or

JourneyCare If you are mobility impaired, or have any type of disability 08457 44 33 66 or 08457 44 33 67 (textphone)

Group Travel For parties of ten or more: 0870 010 4490 Customer Relations


0845 000 8000 (national call rates apply) 0121 654 7528 (textphone)

0121 654 7500 (fax) Press Office

North Wing Offices Euston Station LONDON NW1 2DS

0845 000 3333 (national call rates apply) – media enquiries only

Images of Virgin Trains operations can be obtained by registering on

Published by the Press Office (see above). March 2009





Related subjects :