Virgin Trains East Coast has added new services from Sunderland and Stirling to London and between Hull and Doncaster today.
The rail operator said the services have been introduced to fulfil demand from business travellers, who have been calling for more early morning departures.
The routes are part of Virgin's "ambitious" plans to transform services on its east coast route, which includes a £21 million overhaul of its fleet of 45 trains – part of a £140 million investment over eight years (see news, November 24).
The Sunderland service will depart at 0540 and arrive into London King's Cross at 0908, with the return service departing London at 2000. Both will be faster than existing direct trains to Sunderland, by seven minutes southbound and 11 minutes northbound.
The early morning Stirling service will depart at 0526 and arrive into London at 1052 - this is 46 minutes faster than the existing 0530 departure, which requires a change of train and arrives in London at 1142.
The train will also call at Falkirk Grahamston and will link with the existing 0626 departure from Edinburgh Waverley. The return service will depart London King's Cross at 1500, arriving in Stirling at 2016.
UK rail minister Claire Perry said: "It is fantastic to see the start of these new services from Sunderland and Stirling.
"As a one nation government, we know that transport doesn't just help hard-working people get around, it helps them get on. These new services will provide better journeys for customers and boost economic ties between Scotland, the north-east and London, stimulating growth and helping rebalance our economy.
"These new services are further proof that the new east coast franchise is delivering real benefits for customers across the UK. We are also proud that passengers on the east coast route will also benefit from the introduction of new government supported Intercity Express Programme trains from 2018."
Virgin East Coast has also added a weekday evening service between Hull and Doncaster. From today, travellers in Hull, Brough, and Selby will be able to travel on a new service to Doncaster, with onward connections to Newark North Gate, Grantham, Peterborough, Stevenage and London King's Cross.
A fleet of 65 new Virgin Trains will also be introduced on the east coast from 2018. The trains will be built by Hitachi at its plant based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.