EDITORS NOTE: I’ve published an FAQ into some of the changes here
In around 10 days time, Virgin Trains (West Coast Railway)who have operated the West Coast Rail Franchise for 22 years will be no more.
Enter Avanti West Coast.
Avanti West Coast is the result of the FirstGroup and Trenitalia partnership which won the recent franchising round.
Initially, Avanti West Coast will take over and operate the West Coast Main Line route that connects London to Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Crewe, Manchester, Liverpool, Carlsile, The Lake District and Glasgow.
In the longer term, they will operate the services over the planned High Speed 2 Rail line.
Here’s a fancy video from the company.
And of course, this means the trains get a repaint too
In the longer term, Avanti will also replace the Voyager Diesel trains with 23 new trainsets. Meanwhile, they plan to refit the existing Pendolino fleet of 56 trains with new seating.
In terms of network, 263 extra services a week are planned by 2022, with a doubling of service to Liverpool is planned.
A lot of these changes are shown on this lovely infographic.
At the launch of the new brand, Steve Montgomery, Managing Director of First Rail said:
“Today marks the start of a new era in high-speed rail services – one that will generate national prosperity and pride. Avanti West Coast enshrines the type of forward-thinking operation we intend to run, that’s ready for today and fit for the future.
“We’re looking forward to taking over the franchise in 11 days’ time and we are very pleased and proud to be working with Trenitalia, a strong partner who is committed to playing an increasing role in UK rail and has many years of expertise in the high speed sector in Italy.
“We are committed to our customers and over the next few years, we will work with our industry and local partners not only to invest in, and improve, rail services on the route, but also to attract more people to rail and connect communities across the country.”
Ernesto Sicilia, Managing Director, Trenitalia (UK) Ltd, said:
“It’s an amazing honour to partner with FirstGroup. After our entrance into the British market in 2017, today marks another step in our ambition to play a positive role in the UK rail industry, in which we see a great future. Avanti West Coast is a strong, progressive and dynamic brand that reflects our commitment to providing our customers with an exceptional service. We are thrilled that the name Avanti has been chosen to represent these values to our customers and pays tribute to our expertise in transforming Italian railways. ”
Farewell Virgin Trains
As for Virgin Trains, it marks a closure of their brand in the UK, which came into being when they took over the CrossCountry franchise, then the West Coast franchise. With not a lot left after 22 years, they’ve posted a video.
For passengers, on a day-to-day basis, things won’t change straight away, other than some new signs, new vinyl decals on trains and different staff uniforms.
But as time moves on, Avanti West Coast branding will become more visible. But with four years to make changes, it will be interesting to watch things go forward.
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