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Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2006, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Virgin train breaks speed record
The Virgin train at Euston Station
The train arrived at Euston after a record 3hr 55min 27sec trip
A new train speed record has been set on the Glasgow to London line.

Virgin Trains made the 401 mile journey in three hours and 55 minutes - knocking 19 minutes off the record set 25 years ago.

It is the first sub-four hour journey from Glasgow to London and the operator said it showed what had been achieved by Pendolino trains and a line upgrade.

The 30,000 ticket money will go to a charity providing motorbikes for the delivery of healthcare in Africa.

The train left Glasgow Central station at 1237 BST prompt, carrying 400 passengers.

It arrived at Euston station in London at 1632 BST.

Sixty years ago it took me nine hours 25 minutes
Passenger Neil Ker

Speaking before he boarded the train, Virgin West Coast Trains Managing Director Charles Belcher said: "It's going to be a nail-biting event from beginning to end."

"We want to run this train at under four hours from here to London and demonstrate what can be done and then turn that into a reality on a regular basis."

Train driver Russell Southworth, 40, from Preston, said the journey was a dream come true.

"I'm very proud," he said. "Ever since I was a young child, it's been an ambition of mine to do something like this."

Heaven's Angels

Many passengers travelled from around the country to be part of the record attempt.

Rail enthusiast Neil Ker, from Ludlow, Shropshire, was making the trip to celebrate his 80th birthday.

He said: "For me, it's about the excitement of making this journey in four hours.

The Virgin train leaves Glasgow Central
The Virgin train left Glasgow Central at 1237 BST prompt

"Sixty years ago it took me nine hours 25 minutes."

Before setting off, the train was officially named Heaven's Angels by Nick Pigott of Railway Magazine.

Heaven's Angels is the name of the Virgin-supported charity which is receiving more than 30,000 as a result of the landmark journey.

The previous record was set by British Rail's ill-fated tilting Advanced Passenger Train in the early 1980s.

In December 1984 the APT set a new record for the opposite London to Glasgow run of 3hrs 52mins.

Billions of pounds have been spent on upgrading the West Coast Main Line.

The record attempt coincides with Virgin's announcement that its West Coast punctuality has improved from 80% of trains running on time in June 2005 to 88% in June 2006.


SEE ALSO
High-speed tilting train on track
12 Dec 05 |  Scotland
First tilting train arrives early
05 Jan 04 |  Scotland
Tilting train takes city's name
21 May 04 |  Scotland

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