Virgin Trains has announced plans for extra trains on its West Coast routes from London Euston. At the same time the train firm says it will offer passengers chauffeur-driven cars, revamp its website and move towards e-ticketing.
Currently trains operate every half-hour on weekdays between London, Birmingham and Manchester. Services from London to Liverpool and Glasgow are less frequent.
But under plans being finalised with Network Rail, Virgin Trains plans to raise train frequency to a service every 20 minutes on routes to Birmingham and Manchester. Trains would then operate hourly to Glasgow and half-hourly at peak times on the Liverpool route. The schedule improvements are expected to start in late 2008.
The chauffeur-drive service will be trialled for passengers arriving at Euston from this summer. It will cover any destination in Central London with transfers priced between £22 and £34.
Virgin Trains’ website will also be revamped this summer with simpler fare displays. In addition, there will be an e-ticketing trial which will enable passengers who book online to print their own tickets in the office or home. Eventually Virgin Trains expects to extend e-ticketing across its network.
Passenger numbers on Virgin’s West Coast routes have risen from 13.6 million in 1997/8 to 18.17 million in 2005/6. The biggest growth has been on the London-Manchester route where the number of rail journeys has increased by 105% since the half-hourly timetable was introduced in September 2004.
For more information go to virgintrains.co.uk
Report by Alex McWhirter