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Virgin Trains East Coast extends services to Sunderland

Virgin Trains East Coast has announced a new direct return service between Sunderland and London from 14 December.

The operating company will also start selling tickets for a new return service from Stirling to London King’s Cross. Both services will feature early morning departures in order to meet business commuter needs.

The Stirling service will be 46 minutes faster than the existing 5.30 departure, which currently requires a change of train.

It will also call at Falkirk Grahamston and will link with the existing 06.26 departure from Edinburgh Waverley.

Rail minister Claire Perry said: “The new Sunderland service will provide better journeys for customers across the region and boost economic ties between the north east and the capital, stimulating growth. It will play an important role in our ambitious plans to build a Northern Powerhouse and create a balanced, healthier economy.

“Along with the additional services for Scotland and Yorkshire, this is further proof that the new East Coast franchise is delivering real benefits for customers across the UK.”

The TOC is also selling tickets for an additional return service from Leeds to London on Saturdays.

David Horne, MD at Virgin Trains, said: “This is a hugely exciting day for us as we move towards operating more services, and adding Sunderland to the Virgin rail map.

“The new services mark a major milestone in Virgin Trains’ ambitious plans to transform services on its East Coast route, which also includes £140m investment to deliver an improved services and more personalised customer experience.”

The TOC – 90% owned by Stagecoach and 10% by Virgin Group – has recently hit the halfway mark on the “biggest rebranding exercise on the East Coast Main Line in a decade” after applying a bright red livery to seven diesel HST sets and 16 electric sets of the 45-train fleet.

The fleet of InterCity 125s and 225s, hauled by diesel Class 43s and electric Class 91s, is to be replaced by December 2018 with the new Hitachi-built Class 800 and 801 ‘Super Express’ trains under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).


Simon   28/09/2015 at 14:37

Given that there are no sidings at Sunderland for anything I find it hard to believe that along with the Tyne and Wear Metro, freight services along the coast, Grand Central and now VTEC how this service is going to fit on a line where there has been no infrastructure changes. Sunderland station is hardly an iconic gateway to Sunderland but I suppose Virgin is a welcome competitor to a city which until Grand Central arrived has suffered from any direct link to the capital..

Andrew Gwilt   28/09/2015 at 22:15

So Virgin Trains East Coast are soon to operate a direct service from London King's Cross to Sunderland taking over Grand Central. It would also promote other new routes for VTEC to operate from London King's Cross to Middlesbrough, Scarborough and Grimsby in the near future with future direct services to be added to and possibly London King's Cross to Lincoln, Hartlepool and Skegness also to be added to the VTEC direct routes. Plus the new Hitachi IEP trains that VTEC are currently ordering to replace the Class 43 MK2 HST and Class 91+MK3+DVT fleets that would also be used on these new direct routes to/from King's Cross.

Jason Lupton   29/09/2015 at 15:43

Grand Central services currently go all the way up to Pelaw to stable between services, so its going to get awfully busy. Is the Virgin service travelling via Newcastle or Hartlepool?

Jak Jaye   30/09/2015 at 16:47

What 'Northern Powerhouse' ? 2 steelworks are closing,what a joke!

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