Charity rail tour raises over £50,000 for Railway Children


Charity rail tour

An “epic” charity rail tour organised by Virgin Trains and partners to celebrate 40 years since the launch of the High Speed Train (HST) has raised more than £50,000 for Railway Children.

More than 500 people joined the sold out one-off train from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh at the weekend, raising more than £50,000 for the charity which works to support children in India, Africa and the UK, many of whom are living on the streets.

The train gave rail and rolling stock enthusiasts rare visits to Virgin Trains’ Bounds Green and Craigentinny depots, in London and Edinburgh respectively, where they experienced being shunted as part of an 18 hour return trip to the Scottish capital. The journey took in different routes along the East Coast Main Line, including along the Ashington, Blyth & Tyne line, in Northumberland, and across the Edinburgh suburban line.

David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on its east coast route, said: “This was an epic journey which raised £50,000 for a great cause and gave people the opportunity to enjoy some rarely-used routes and loops. Some of these routes are very rarely used by passenger services nowadays and it was a treat for many people to see behind the scenes inside our depots from the comfort of one of our trains!

“It was great to have Sir Kenneth Grange on board as a guest of honour, as he gave the HST its iconic look when it was launched 40 years ago. Soon the HSTs will make way for our new Virgin Azuma trains which will transform travel on our east coast route in years to come, a worthy successor to Sir Kenneth’s timeless design.”

Railway Children Director of Fundraising and Marketing Rob Capener said: “This special tour to mark 40 years of the High Speed Train was an amazing success, both in terms of the enjoyment of every passenger onboard and the amazing total raised for Railway Children – we simply cannot thank everyone involved enough.

“The support of the Branch Line Society, Virgin Trains, 125 Group, PLEG, East Midlands Trains, Network Rail and Rail Gourmet, who made this incredible event a reality, will help us change the lives of thousands of vulnerable children. For example, £37,000 could fund a Child Friendly Station in India to help to keep children safe.”

Kev Adlam, Fixtures Secretary of the Branch Line Society, which helped to organise the event, said: “At over 800 miles it was the longest distance travelled by a one day rail tour in the society's 62 year history, and we believe it could be a new UK record holder for a one day charity rail tour in terms of the amount of money raised.  The interesting route, rare track and traction made this a really outstanding and memorable day.”

The train was headed by Virgin’s power car “Craigentinny 100”, number 43 300, which commemorates 100 years of the Craigentinny depot from 1914 to 2014.

Dennis Fancett, Chair of South East Northumberland Rail User Group (SENRUG), added: “We were delighted to be onboard this special train, which also travelled around the Ashington, Blyth & Tyne line as far as Bedlington, profiling SENRUG’s campaign to re-introduce regular, local passenger services on this route. All the Virgin staff operating the train – from drivers to guards to catering crew – gave their time voluntarily and special thanks must be extended to them for making the day such a success.

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