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STRICT EMBARGO: 00.01 December 09, 2019

NEW ERA FOR RAIL SERVICES ON WEST COAST MAIN LINE

  • Official launch of Avanti West Coast train services across Britain
  • New West Coast Partnership to bring package of improvements including new and refurbished trains, better stations and simplified fares
  • West Coast Partnership Development established to start designing and developing future high-speed rail services

Avanti West Coast officially takes over the operation of long-distance train services on the West Coast Main Line today, heralding a new era of intercity and future high-speed rail services in the UK.

A fully liveried train bearing the franchise’s new branding with its distinctive logo will travel from Euston Station stopping at Coventry, Birmingham International, Stafford, Preston, Crewe, Carlisle and Motherwell before arriving in Glasgow in the early evening.

Before it departs from London Euston, at the presence of His Excellency, Raffaele Trombetta, the Italian Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Gregory and Orazio Iacono will name the train ‘Pride and Prosperity’ in recognition of the values the new railway will bring.

The Avanti name, (Italian for Let’s Go, and Forward) symbolises progress and movement and the triangular logo represents the three geographic points of the 400-mile long West Coast Main Line that connects London with towns and cities across England, North Wales and Scotland.

FirstGroup and Trenitalia have taken over the franchise from Virgin Trains who ran the service for 22 years.

The new partnership brings a package of improvements for customers. The 56 Pendolino trains will be completely refurbished to as new condition, with 25,000 new seats, more reliable Wi-Fi, and power sockets for all passengers. By 2022, there will be 263 extra train services every week to more places and a fleet of new, state of the art intercity trains will replace the current Voyager trains. There’ll also be simplified fares, improved on-board catering and compensation if trains are delayed by 15 minutes.

Stations will be also be improved with refreshed waiting rooms, better customer facilities, more car park spaces and greater accessibility for passengers with additional travel needs.

Steve Montgomery, Managing Director of First Rail said:

“We’re delighted to start serving the customers who take 40 million journeys every year on the west coast. We’ll bring families, friends, businesses and communities closer together with new trains and new destinations. We’re excited to get our plans underway and take services to the next level.”

As well as the Avanti services, The West Coast Partnership also includes West Coast Partnership Development, which will be the ‘shadow operator’ for future high speed rail services. It will design, develop and mobilise operations for the new line working with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.

Orazio Iacono, Managing Director of Trenitalia said:

“We’re honoured to begin operating intercity services on the West Coast Main Line, one of the busiest railways in Europe, that will bring a host of improvements for the millions of people who use it every year. Trenitalia will also be using its skills to help design and manage high speed rail services from North to South in the UK over the next few years. The name Avanti was chosen to represent our values and recognises our ten-year experience in the high speed in Italy with 350 million passengers. Quality, dynamism, innovation and future: this is what we want to guarantee for the West Coast main line service”.

For further information, please contact:

MHP Communications

Avanti@mhpc.com

FirstGroup

Edward Funnell (West Coast Partnership) on 07766 44 87 66 / edward.funnell@firstgroup.com

Trenitalia UK

Chris Atkinson - 07770 947332
Giovanni Sanfelice di Monteforte, Tancredi / 07775 858152

Avanti West Coast

Press Office 0845 000 3333

Notes to Editors

About the West Coast Partnership

The West Coast Partnership is a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia. The franchise comprises two distinct parts – Avanti West Coast that will run the current services on the West Coast Main Line, and West Coast Partnership Development that will work with HS2 Ltd and the DfT to develop and operate high speed rail services.

Both will work in partnership with stakeholders, communities and customers along the route to develop and enhance rail services and help stimulate economic growth. The new partnership will build on the existing success and culture of the current operator by bringing together the best parts of both Virgin Trains and First Trenitalia. Our goal is to “deliver a progressive railway service that generates nationwide prosperity and pride”.

About FirstGroup

FirstGroup plc (LSE: FGP.L) is a leading provider of transport services in the UK and North America. With £7.1 billion in revenue and around 100,000 employees, we transported 2.2 billion passengers last year. Whether for business, education, health, social or recreation – we get our customers where they want to be, when they want to be there. We create solutions that reduce complexity, making travel smoother and life easier.

We provide easy and convenient mobility, improving quality of life by connecting people and communities.  Each of our five divisions is a leader in its field: In North America, First Student is the largest provider of home-to-school student transportation with a fleet of 42,500 yellow school buses, First Transit is one of the largest providers of outsourced transit management and contracting services, while Greyhound is the only nationwide operator of scheduled intercity coaches. In the UK, First Bus is one of Britain's largest bus companies with 1.6 million passengers a day, and First Rail is one of the country's largest and most experienced rail operators, carrying 345 million passengers last year. Visit www.firstgroupplc.com and follow us @firstgroupplc on Twitter.

About Trenitalia

Trenitalia is Italy’s primary rail operator and one of the leading railway operators in Europe with presence also in France, Germany and Greece. In UK through its subsidiary Trenitalia UK the Group runs c2c franchisee. Trenitalia is the only high-speed operator in the world that faces domestic rail competition while giving exceptional service to its customers and producing revenues of over €5.37bn.  Trenitalia offers two major services: high-speed rail and regional transport. The company is best known for its iconic Frecciarossa high-speed services.  

Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, the ultimate shareholder of Trenitalia, is the main Italian transport company with €58bn of investments in its business plan for 2019-2023. The Group is contributing to the overall investment volume in the country and supporting the development and the improvement of the transport, infrastructure, logistics and tourism sectors. FS Italiane’s operating revenue grew to €12bn in 2018, producing an EBITDA of €2.5bn with a net result of €560m.