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One of the UK's largest passenger rail franchises, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Trains runs high speed Pendolino expresses on main lines 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.

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 passing 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 running..



 Next we see several Virgin trains in the great trainshed of Manchester Picadilly station.


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