- Özgür Töre
Avanti West Coast has been unveiled as the name of the operator replacing Virgin Trains in the United Kingdom.
Aberdeen-based transport company FirstGroup (70%) and Italian firm Trenitalia (30%) announced the brand name for their partnership that will commence operating the InterCity West Coast franchise on 8th December 2019.
Virgin Trains lost its longstanding franchise to operate the West Coast network earlier this year, the new franchise runs until 2031. The launch of Avanti West Coast will mark the end of Virgin Trains, which is the UK’s longest-running rail franchise that began operating services on the west coast in March 1997.
Avanti West Coast's trains and station signs will display an orange triangle logo. The logo symbolizes the three geographic points of the 400-mile long West Coast Main Line that services cities and towns across England, North Wales and Scotland.
Under the new West Coast Partnership, First Trenitalia is committed to delivering a range of passenger enhancements for InterCity West Coast services and passengers will benefit from more trains, more seats, simplified fares and more frequent services. The 56 Pendolino trains will be completely refurbished with 25,000 brand new seats, more reliable Wi-Fi and improved catering. By 2022, there will be 263 more train services every week to more places and a fleet of new trains introduced.
Fares and ticket types will be simplified with mobile tickets and smartcards introduced. Stations will be improved with refreshed waiting rooms, better customer facilities, more car park spaces, and greater accessibility for those who need it. The Partnership will also pave the way for a new era in high speed rail in the UK in the coming years, working with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.
Steve Montgomery, Managing Director of First Rail, one of the UK’s most experienced rail operators, said, “Today marks the start of a new era in high-speed rail services - one that will generate national prosperity and pride. Avanti West Coast enshrines the type of forward-thinking operation we intend to run, that’s ready for today and fit for the future.
“We’re looking forward to taking over the franchise in 11 days’ time and we are very pleased and proud to be working with Trenitalia, a strong partner who is committed to playing an increasing role in UK rail and has many years of expertise in the high speed sector in Italy.
“We are committed to our customers and over the next few years, we will work with our industry and local partners not only to invest in, and improve, rail services on the route, but also to attract more people to rail and connect communities across the country.”
Ernesto Sicilia, Managing Director, Trenitalia (UK) Ltd, said, “It’s an amazing honour to partner with FirstGroup. After our entrance into the British market in 2017, today marks another step in our ambition to play a positive role in the UK rail industry, in which we see a great future. Avanti West Coast is a strong, progressive and dynamic brand that reflects our commitment to providing our customers with an exceptional service. We are thrilled that the name Avanti has been chosen to represent these values to our customers and pays tribute to our expertise in transforming Italian railways. ”
For more information visit: www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk