One of the UK's largest passenger rail franchises, Sir Richard
Branson's Virgin Trains runs high speed Pendolino expresses on main
from London to Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester, and sleek new Voyager
and Super Voyager expresses on a large number of cross country routes
from Edinbrugh in Scotland to Plymouth on the English Channel. I've
covered much of the system in my recent travels, and have sampled the
new trains. The trains themselves have many amenities, including very
comfortable 'airline style' seating and little shops with everything
from food to compact discs. Staff, compared to what I remember on
nationalized British Rail, are young, friendly and customer focused.
The total experience, from the aesthetics of the trains to customer
service, reminds one of Virgin Rail's airline heritage, but the company
has made major investments and is arguably providing service that
rivals high European standards in many respects. Like other passenger
companies in the UK, Virgin must endure both an aging infrastructure
(only now, in 2005, getting much-needed investment) and traffic jams
due to increased customer demand.
Virgin Trains Page
Here is a sampling of photos taken over the past five years.
The photo above was taken on the West Coast Mainline at Watford
Junction, just north of London. It and the three following phots,
depict old equipment inherited from British Rail. In many respects it
is more comfortable and smoother than new lightweight expresses.
The above left and the train below are high speed trains ('HST's', or
'125's') capable of 125mph running.
Next we see a Super Voyager on the Oxford-London Paddington line
through Didcot, a photo taken from the Dicot Railway Museum.
The next photo is of Voyagers at Oxford in the
summer of 2004.
The next two photos are of Pendolinos passing through Milton Keynes in
2004, shortly after they entered full service on
the West Coast Main Line, which is being upgraded for higher speed
Next we see several Virgin trains in the great trainshed of
Manchester Picadilly station.
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