Dec 8, 2019

Virgin Trains: Final service departs as UK's longest-running rail franchise ends

Avanti West Coast, which will begin running the service on Sunday, told customers that tickets booked with Virgin Trains for upcoming journeys are still valid. The end of the franchise comes after Virgin Group and Stagecoach had their bid to continue running trains on the line disqualified by the Department for Transport in April because they did not meet pension rules. The service has had a variable record - the proportion of Virgin trains which arrived at their final destination within 10 minutes of the timetable ranged from 33% in the final quarter of 2000 to 91% between July-September 2010. Virgin Trains managing director Phil Whittingham, who will hold the same position with the new operator, said he was "Concentrating on a smooth handover" to Avanti, adding: "It's been a wonderful 22 years transforming services on the west coast and we're proud of everything our people have achieved in that time." The operator said it would introduce a range of passenger improvements, including 263 more weekly services by 2022, when 23 new trains will begin service.

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