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Saturday, February 14, 1998 Published at 02:51 GMT


Virgin shunts extra cash into rail service
image: [ Virgin Rail is buying 55 high-speed tilting trains like this one in Switzerland ]
Virgin Rail is buying 55 high-speed tilting trains like this one in Switzerland

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The British millionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Rail is about to place major orders for 130 new trains. They will cost £800m and secure 3,000 jobs.

GEC and Fiat will make 55 high-speed tilting trains to run on the much-criticised London-to-Glasgow line.

Another 75 trains will be bought for other routes.

Virgin also claims to be on the right track as far as punctuality is concerned.

On its West Coast line only 54% of trains left and arrived on time in December last year.

[ image: Commuters have complained about late trains]
Commuters have complained about late trains
Its summer timetable, effective from May 24, promises service improvements, and it has also acquired three extra trains from leasing companies.

The improvements include:

  • an hourly service running into Glasgow from London-Euston in the afternoons

  • a new evening service from Aberdeen to Edinburgh and a new early-morning service in the other direction

  • an extra service each way between Edinburgh and Newcastle

  • and two new services between Edinburgh and Leeds.

Announcing the timetable changes in Glasgow, Virgin Trains' chief executive, Brian Barrett, said: "This is the beginning of a new era for our customers."

Virgin has attracted many passenger complaints since taking over the former British Rail services nearly 12 months ago, but claims a "dramatic" improvement in services since December.

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