Virgin Trains East Coast refurbishing entire fleet

Virgin Trains East Coast is investing £21 million in refurbishing its entire fleet.

The interior of each of the group’s 45 trains will be completely renovated, with the first entering service on December 14 on Virgin’s new Sunderland-London service.

The work will overhaul 401 carriages and will see the replacement of 24,123 seats, with leather seats fitted in first class, refurbished toilets, and new carpets and curtains.

Virgin said it has “committed more than £40 million to improving its train fleet since it launched its east coast franchise in March, as part of its plans to invest £140 million over eight years”.

It is also fitting 35 new engines to its diesel High Speed Train fleet.

David Horne, Virgin Trains’ managing director on the east coast route, said: “This multi-million investment in our trains [is] not only one of the biggest investments of its kind ever seen on the east coast route, but also three years ahead of the introduction of new Super Express Trains as part of the government’s Intercity Express programme.

“We’re investing now so our customers can benefit from new seats and a great new on-board environment before we get a new fleet of 65 trains from 2018.”

Last month, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the new Virgin Trains livery for the Flying Scotsman (see news, October 29).

Graham Smith

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  • At last. I find the seats very uncomfortable and with limited knee room. The seats on First Great Western are far more comfortable, although obviously serving a different region.

    What was very disappointing when I went with this train company to York a few weeks ago was the buffet car – a very limited selection of food that barely touched the sides.

    From Virgin I expected much more than that.

  • I’m hoping that refurbishment isn’t a euphemism for cramming more seats in.
    A replication of Virgin west coast is what I fear we’ll end up with!

  • I may be wrong, but I believe “new seats” actually refers to “new seat covers.”

    VTEC (Virgin Trains East Coast) inherited trainsets which are several decades old. They are almost life-expired for this prestige route.

    In which case, would VTEC invest in over 24,000 brand new seats?

    Most of the current fleet will start to be retired in 2018 when 65 new Hitachi trainsets begin to arrive.

    What will the new Hitachi seat configurations be like? VTEC has no choice but to boost passenger numbers because it is committed to paying the government £3.3 billion (not million!) between 2015 and 2023 (depending on performance) in franchise payments.

    VTEC has said it will increase capacity by no less than 50 per cent by 2020. The train operating company (TOC) is 90 per cent owned by Stagecoach and just 10 per cent by Virgin.

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