Virgin Trains Celebrates 250 Million Passengers as Satisfaction Figures Hit Record Levels

By Virgin Trains, PRNE
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

LONDON, January 26, 2011 - Virgin Trains has celebrated carrying 250 million passengers on its West
Coast services - equivalent to the combined populations of the United
, France, Spain and Germany - by handing out free rail travel to 26
lucky passengers. The celebrations took place just days before Virgin Trains
hit a new record level for Overall Satisfaction for long-distance train
operators in the latest independent National Passenger Survey carried out by
rail watchdog Passenger Focus.

Renee Little from Glasgow was one of the passengers onboard Virgin's
08:52 train from Edinburgh to Birmingham on 20 January, when Virgin Trains'
Chief Operating Officer Chris Gibb jumped onboard at Warrington Bank Quay.
Renee received a First Class pass offering unlimited travel for a complete
month. A number of other passengers on the train were invited to join the
celebrations and received a free First Class return journey anywhere on the
Virgin Trains network.

Renee Little was travelling with her daughter Elaine, Marketing Manager
at Dentistry on the Square in Glasgow and the Principle Dentist at the
practice. Members of the practice were travelling to a dentistry conference.

On accepting her travel pass Renee said: "I'm not really a frequent train
traveller but I'm having a nice day out today and looking forward to doing
some shopping in Birmingham. The one month travel pass is a really nice
surprise: I will be travelling to the south of England in April for my
niece's 21st birthday soon and I'll definitely be going by train now. I'll be
able to have shopping trips to London with my daughter too."

Daughter Elaine said: "I like being able to plug in my laptop. I've been
able to work on the train and do some final preparation for my conference
presentation, and I had a nice baguette and cup of tea earlier from the

The group had considered flying from Glasgow to London but were pleased
that they chose the train.

"We thought about flying but we're glad we didn't," said Dr Mark
. "When you take into account travel to the airport then the wait in
the airport, the journey time by train is about the same and so is the cost
but on the train it's much more comfortable, you get more room to move and
with Wi-Fi and power sockets you can get some work done while you travel."

Virgin Trains has also given away a monthly First Class pass and a
further 25 First Class return tickets through Social Media using its Facebook
site and Twitter account.

Chris Gibb said: "Virgin Trains has transformed rail travel on the West
Coast routes over the last 14 years. This franchise has gone from strength to
strength, with more trains, more customers, more services and better
performance. We have achieved so many improvements over recent years and will
strive even harder to bring further benefits to customers."

Virgin Trains took over the West Coast franchise, operating from London
to the West Midlands, North West, North Wales, Cumbria and Glasgow in 1997.
It added the Birmingham-Scotland services to its West Coast operation in
2007. Passenger numbers have more than doubled from 13.5 million a year in
1997 to 28.2 million in 2010.

Since 1997 a new train fleet worth over GBP1billion has been introduced
and a route upgrade completed, with a doubling of train services to 330 a day
and faster journey times. On board facilities have been totally transformed
with a Shop selling a range of hot and cold snack and drinks and magazines.
An at seat service is provided for First Class customers on weekdays as well
as power points, enhanced mobile phone reception and Wi-Fi throughout the

The continued improvements Virgin Trains has made to its train services
over the last 14 years continue to be reflected in the high scores achieved
in the latest National Passenger Survey carried out by rail watchdog
Passenger Focus. Latest figures show that Virgin Trains has received the
highest score for franchised long-distance achieving 90% Overall Satisfaction
(average 87%) and 65% Value for Money (average 59%). Virgin Trains also
scored highly on ticket buying facilities at stations (85% against average
82%) and Connections with Public Transport (82% against average 77%).The
availability of staff at stations, as well as the attitude and helpfulness of
staff at stations score above the long-distance average.

Virgin Trains' Chief Operating Officer added: "It's a great boost for all
our staff, from those on stations, the trains, to Control staff and support
teams that we are consistently achieving high scores in the survey by
Passenger Focus. We know that high scores only come in the areas where we are
doing well, so will be focusing on the other areas to ensure that we can
deliver improvements for our passengers."

Notes to Editors:

Photo '250 million passengers 001' shows Virgin Trains' Chief Operating
Officer Chris Gibb with Dr Mark Skimming, Renee Little and Elaine Little.

Photo '250 million passengers 002' shows Renee Little receiving her First
Class pass from Virgin Trains' Chief Operating Officer Chris Gibb.

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Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group. We have operated
the West Coast passenger train franchise since March 1997; the current
franchise runs to March 2012.

Since entering the UK rail market in 1997 over 444 million passenger
journeys have been made with Virgin Trains.

Virgin Rail Group is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by

Virgin Trains has been recognised in numerous industry awards. In 2010
the company has been named Best Rail Operator of the Year at the Travel Globe
Awards (voted for by readers of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening
Standard), and Best Rail Operator in the Group Leisure Awards (which we also
won in 2009). In 2009 we were also voted Best UK Domestic Train Service by
Business Traveller magazine for the second year running. Virgin Trains first
achieved Investors In People accreditation in 2007 and this was renewed in
2010; the IiP Gold award was achieved in 2011.

Pictures accompanying this release are available through the PA
Photowire. They can be viewed at or

For further information contact the Virgin Trains Press Office on +44(0)845-000-3333

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