Virgin Trains East Coast

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Virgin Trains East Coast
Virgin Trains East Coast HST at Leeds (geograph 4704324).jpg
Virgin Trains East Coast HST at Leeds station
Franchise(s): InterCity East Coast
1 March 2015 – 31 March 2023
Main route(s): London - Aberdeen
London - Edinburgh
London - Newcastle
London - York
London - Leeds
London - Newark
Other route(s): London - Inverness
London - Glasgow
London - Sunderland
London - Skipton
London - Bradford
London - Harrogate
London - Hull
London - Lincoln
Fleet size: 31 InterCity 225 sets
14 InterCity 125 sets
Stations called at: 53
Stations operated: 12
National Rail abbreviation: GR[1]
Parent company: Stagecoach (90%)
Virgin (10%)
Route map
Route map

Virgin Trains East Coast[2] is a train operating company in the United Kingdom that operates the InterCity East Coast franchise on the East Coast Main Line between London, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. It commenced operations on 1 March 2015, taking over from East Coast. It is a joint venture between Stagecoach (90%), and Virgin Rail Group (10%). In most cases, generic Virgin Trains branding is used, and 'East Coast' is rarely mentioned.


In January 2014, FirstGroup, Keolis/Eurostar and Stagecoach/Virgin were announced as the shortlisted bidders for the new InterCity East Coast franchise.[3][4] In November 2014, the eight-year franchise was awarded to the Stagecoach/Virgin joint venture company Inter City Railways Limited,[5] and commenced operating on 1 March 2015 trading as Virgin Trains East Coast.[6][7][8][9]


Typical off-peak Monday-Friday service pattern (including other inter-city services)

Virgin Trains East Coast took over all of the services operated by East Coast. It categorises its weekday services from London King's Cross into four routes:[10]

Route Off-peak frequency Calling at (off-peak) Peak-time extensions
A London King's Cross - Leeds (and West Yorkshire) 2tph xx:05 service calling at Peterborough, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate and Leeds

xx:35 service calling at Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate and Leeds

1tpd to Skipton

1tpd to Bradford Forster Square VIA: Skipton

1tpd to Harrogate

B London King's Cross - Edinburgh (fast) 1tph York, Darlington, Newcastle Central, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh Waverley

1tpd to Inverness

1tpd to Stirling

4tpd to Aberdeen (3 from London King's Cross, 1 from Leeds) Leeds early morning- Aberdeen

C London King's Cross - Newcastle Central and Edinburgh 1tph to Newcastle; 1tp2h extended to Edinburgh Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Northallerton (1tp2h), Darlington, Durham, Newcastle Central, Alnmouth, Edinburgh Waverley

(Northallerton is served by trains to and from Newcastle only)

1tpd to Glasgow Central

1tpd to Sunderland

D London King's Cross - Newark / York 1tph to Newark, 1tp2h extended to York Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Retford, Doncaster, York

1tpd to Lincoln

1tpd to Hull

New services

Virgin Trains East Coast introduced once per day services to Stirling and Sunderland via Newcastle on 14 December 2015, along with one extra service each weekday evening between Hull and Doncaster via Selby.[11] It is proposing to extend services from Newcastle to Edinburgh in May 2016 and extend services that terminate at Newark and York to Lincoln and Harrogate respectively.[8] In May 2019, it is proposed that a half-hourly service to Edinburgh be introduced with a fleet of six to eight 7 to 8-car InterCity 225 sets operating limited stops services. In May 2020, it is proposed to extend services to Huddersfield and Middlesbrough.[6][8][12][13]

Rolling stock

Virgin Trains East Coast inherited a fleet of InterCity 125 and InterCity 225s from East Coast. Most driving vehicles received a Virgin logo within the first three days of the franchise, and all train sets received a full Virgin Trains East Coast livery by November 2015. Attention then turned to the interiors with toilets to be refreshed and seat covers and carpets replaced,[14] with the first refurbished set entered service on 31 December 2015.

In July 2015, an additional InterCity 125 set was transferred from East Midlands Trains.[15]

 Trainset   Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number 
 mph   km/h 
InterCity 125 Class 43 43 316 at Kings Cross by Hugh Llewelyn.jpg Diesel locomotive 125 200 32
Mark 3 carriage BR Mk.III HST TGS No.44027 by Hugh Llewelyn.jpg Passenger carriage 125 200 117
InterCity 225 Class 91 Loco 91105 at King's Cross.JPG Electric locomotive 140 225 31
Mark 4 carriage Virgin Trains East Coast Mk 4 by Matt Buck.jpg Passenger carriage 140 225 302
Driving Van Trailer VTEC Intercity 225 set at King's Cross 2.jpg Driving Van Trailer 140 225 31


All of the current fleet are scheduled to be replaced by Class 800/Class 801 high-speed trains from December 2018. These will operate in 9-carriage and 5-carriage sets.[16][17] In March 2016, VTEC announced that its IEP trains would carry the brand name Azuma, the Japanese word for "East".[18][19]

If VTEC's application to operate extra limited stops services to Edinburgh is successful, it is proposing to operate these by retaining six to eight shortened InterCity 225 sets.[13]

 Trainset   Class  Image Type  Top speed   Number of Units   Carriages   Routes 
 mph   km/h 
Hitachi Super Express[20] Class 800 Azuma Virgin Azuma train Kings Cross.jpg Bi-Mode Multiple Unit 140 225 13 9 All Routes
10 5
Class 801 Azuma EMU 140 225 12 5 All Electric Routes
30 9
InterCity 225 Class 91 Loco 91105 at King's Cross.JPG Electric locomotive 140 225 TBC
(6 to 8)
(7 to 8)
Mark 4 Virgin Trains East Coast Mk 4 by Matt Buck.jpg Passenger carriage 140 225
VTEC Intercity 225 set at King's Cross 2.jpg Driving Van Trailer 140 225


Virgin Trains East Coast has four main depots:


The public performance measure (PPM) shows the percentage of trains which arrive at their terminating station on time. It combines figures for punctuality and reliability into a single performance measure. The most recent figure (in the four weeks from 13 December 2015 - 9 January 2016) for Virgin Trains East Coast's PPM was 82.0%, up from 81.1% in the same period a year ago. The moving annual average PPM was 86.9%.[21]


  1. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  2. Companies House extract company no 4659708 East Coast Main Line Company Limited
  3. East Coast rail shortlist revealed BBC News 17 January 2014
  4. InterCity East Coast franchise shortlist announced Railway Gazette 17 January 2014
  5. Companies House extract company no 8753471
  6. 6.0 6.1 Stagecoach and Virgin win East Coast mainline rail franchise BBC News 27 November 2014
  7. More seats, more services and new trains for East Coast passengers Department for Transport 27 November 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 3.3bn premium wins East Coast franchise for Stagecoach and Virgin Railway Gazette 27 November 2014
  9. Virgin bid wins East Coast franchise The Railway Magazine 27 November 2014
  10. Route Map Virgin Trains East Coast
  11. Triple Swoop for Virgin Trains
  12. "Stagecoach/Virgin bid wins East Coast franchise" The Railway Magazine issue 1366 January 2015 page 6
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Review delays ORR decision on ECML train paths" Rail issue 778 8 July 2015 page 10
  14. Planned Improvements Virgin Trains East Coast
  15. "Mk3s transferred to VTEC" Rail issue 779 22 July 2015 page 29
  16. Intercity Rail Travel Presentation Department for Transport 27 June 2011
  17. Britain's Intercity Express Programme reaches financial close International Railway Journal 25 July 2012
  18. "Edinburgh to London train journey time to be cut to four hours". BBC News. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "VTEC considers route options for new Azuma fleet". Rail. Peterborough: Bauer Media. 13 April 2016. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "EMU Formations". AbRail. AbRail. Retrieved 18 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Network Rail Performance figures (updated every four weeks)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Preceded by
East Coast
InterCity East Coast franchise
Operator of InterCity East Coast franchise
2015 - 2023
Succeeded by