Virgin Trains launches new services to London from Sunderland and Stirling


Spirit of Sunderland

The new services have been launched in response to demands from both business and leisure customers who have been calling for more early morning departures that will give them a longer day in London.

Business, civic and community leaders joined Virgin Trains on-board both inaugural services on 14 December, with the new Sunderland service being met at London King’s Cross Station by the UK Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, who named the train ‘Spirit of Sunderland’.

And new services are now running between Hull and Doncaster, making it easier for customers to connect to London.

The new services mark a major milestone in Virgin Trains’ ambitious plans to transform services on its east coast route, which include a £21million overhaul of its fleet of 45 trains. More than £40m has been committed to the fleet since the company launched its east coast services in March, when it spelt out plans to invest £140million over eight years.

A fleet of 65 brand 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.

David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on its east coast route, said: “This is a hugely exciting day for us as we launch more services, and add Sunderland to the Virgin rail map.

“Business and leisure customers have been calling for more earlymorning departures that will give them a longer day in London, and we’re delighted to be delivering on our promise by launching these new services.”

Claire Perry, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, added:

“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 hardworking 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 routewill also benefit from the introduction of new government supported Intercity Express Programme trains from 2018.”

Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland Council, added: “We welcome this latest investment, which helps demonstrate continuing international business confidence in our city.

“Giving train passengers more flexible, regular travel options between Sunderland and King’s Cross can only be good for the local economy and I hope that these new direct services will become popular.

“An effective transport infrastructure is vital to our economic growth, and we will continue to work with our regional and business partners to provide this.”

Johanna Boyd, Leader of Stirling Council, added: “Stirling is an outward-looking city and city region keen to connect and to work with the business community, to explore the opportunities that allow them and us to thrive in partnership.

Virgin Trains is also pleased to announce a new evening service between Hull and Doncaster which will open up new travel opportunities for customers travelling to London.

Terry French, Group Secretary of the Selby and District Rail Users Group, welcomed the news saying: “We are delighted that this new weekday service will call at Selby, which will enable passengers to catch the 21.40 Virgin service from Doncaster to London.

“In addition, there is the benefit of an extra evening service from Hull to Selby. The Group also welcomes the recent announcement that the interiors of the Virgin trains are to be completely refurbished which will further enhance the experience of travelling on the East Coast Main Line."


Hull dep. 20.28
Brough dep. 20.42
Selby dep. 21.03
Doncaster arr. 21.22

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