Today marks 20 years of Virgin Trains services on the West Coast mainline route, with the rail network operator travelling a combined total of 335 million miles since its launch in 1997 - that’ s three and a half times the distance to the sun!
The maiden voyage was unveiled by Richard Branson at London Euston, the same week that Spice Girls were number one in the charts and Jerry Maguire was number one at the box office. The first ever Virgin Train was named 'Mission: Impossible' and since then the fleet has grown to 76 trains serving 49 stations.
Key moments in Virgin Trains history
- 2004 - First timetabled 125mph Pendolino models (tilting trains) introduced to the UK on the West Coast.
- 2008 - High Frequency timetable introduced, increased services and reduced journey times.
- 2012 - New 11-car Pendolinos introduced to accommodate growing passenger numbers.
- 2013 - Hourly services introduced between London and Scotland.
To celebrate the occasion, Virgin Trains will be sharing red velvet birthday cup cakes with passengers onboard and at key stations along the route including London Euston, Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street.
"Here at Virgin Trains we’re proud to have been at the forefront of innovating British train travel for the last 20 years," commented Phil Whittingham, MD for Virgin Trains West Coast. "Since taking over the franchise, we’ve transformed the West Coast and made it one of the most popular lines in Europe. We have constantly and consistently challenged the status quo, and sought to lead the way in the rail industry by introducing new services and initiatives that benefit passengers."
Celebrations will continue onboard throughout March with the introduction of five films onto BEAM for a limited time only (Virgin Trains free onboard content service), all of which are celebrating their 20th birthday. These include Titanic, Men in Black, The Full Monty, LA Confidential and Boogie Nights.
To ensure that passengers can get involved in the celebrations too, Virgin Trains is launching a six-day 20th Birthday Seat Sale online. From Thursday March 9th to Tuesday March 14th, to find out more head across to the Virgin Trains website.