(Virgin Trains Image)
- 9 March 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the iconic train brand
- Since its maiden voyage in 1997 when the Spice Girls were number one, the trains have travelled over 334,500,000 miles, an average of 17 million miles per year
- To celebrate, its entertainment portal BEAM will host five classic films from 1997 for a limited time, including Men in Black and The Full Monty
- Over 20 years Virgin Trains has revolutionised UK train travel with the introduction of 125mph trains and increased frequency along the route
On 9 March 2017, Virgin Trains celebrates its 20th birthday on the West Coast route, where passenger journeys have grown to 37 million a year. Hungry passengers have been served over five million English breakfasts whilst travelling a combined total of nearly 335 million miles, three and a half times the distance to the sun.
The maiden voyage in 1997 was unveiled by Sir Richard Branson at London Euston, the same week that Spice Girls were number one in the charts and Jerry Maguire was number one at the box office. The first ever Virgin Train was named ‘Mission: Impossible’, after suggestions that the job could not be done, and since then the fleet has grown to 76 trains serving 49 stations.
Over 20 years, Virgin Trains has revolutionised British train travel with its innovations.
Key Moments Include:
- 2004 – First timetabled 125mph Pendolino models (tilting trains) introduced to the UK on the West Coast
- 2008 – High Frequency timetable introduced – increased services and reduced journey times
- 2012 – New 11-car Pendolinos introduced to accommodate growing passenger numbers
- 2013 – Hourly services introduced between London and Scotland
To celebrate the occasion, Virgin Trains will be hosting a ‘pop-up musical performance’ at London Euston and sharing red velvet birthday cup cakes with passengers onboard and at key stations along the route including London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street. Celebrations will continue onboard throughout March with the introduction of five films onto BEAM for a limited time only (Virgin Trains free onboard content service), all of which are celebrating their 20th birthday. These include Titanic, Men in Black, The Full Monty, LA Confidential and Boogie Nights.
Phil Whittingham, MD for Virgin Trains West Coast, said:
“Here at Virgin Trains we’re proud to have been at the forefront of innovating British train travel for the last 20 years. Since taking over the franchise, we’ve transformed the West Coast and made it one of the most popular lines in Europe. We have constantly and consistently challenged the status quo, and sought to lead the way in the rail industry by introducing new services and initiatives that benefit passengers.”
To ensure that passengers can get involved in the celebrations too, Virgin Trains is launching a six-day 20th Birthday Seat Sale online. From Thursday 9 March to Tuesday 14 March, prices will be slashed by up to 55 per cent on Standard and First Class fares on the Virgin Trains West Coast route. Discounted tickets will be available to book at virgintrains.co.uk from 00:01 on Thursday 9 March.