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‘Cav’ catches Virgin Trains’ cab to Tour de Yorkshire launch

Press Release   •   Dec 06, 2017 13:00 GMT

Mark Cavendish in Virgin Trains' driving seat en route to the Tour de Yorkshire route launch

World Champion cyclist Mark Cavendish MBE has swapped his famous sprint finishes on his bike for the ride of a lifetime with Virgin Trains.

“Cav”, as the winner of 30 stages of the Tour de France is known to cycle fans across the world, is a regular user of Virgin Trains.

The former Sports Personality Winner of the Year was whisked up to the full route launch for the Tour de Yorkshire 2018 cycle race yesterday while sitting alongside the driver of a Virgin Trains service which reached 125mph.

Mark said: “The speed of the train was fantastic and the views you get from the front cab of a train are amazing. It was a great experience and, although I travel with Virgin Trains a lot, I’ve never previously appreciated just how quickly the trains move.

“I was also delighted to be invited to help launch next year’s Tour de Yorkshire route. My family are from Yorkshire and it’s such a passionate area for cycling.”

Mark, who hopes to join the Tour de Yorkshire next year, is also now planning to experience what it’s like to drive what will become one of the UK’s fastest ever trains.

Natasha Wilding, General Manager for Virgin Trains on its east coast route, explained: “After giving him the chance to get the views from our cab, Cav is now keen to experience what it’s like to actually drive one of our trains.

“So, we are now arranging for Cav to drive one of our new Virgin Azuma driver simulators so that he can experience what it will be like for our drivers when they introduce our fantastic new fleet of Azuma trains into passenger service from December 2018.

“Our 65 Virgin Azumas will bring greater speed, acceleration, comfort and increased capacity to travellers across our east coast route.

“In the meantime, Virgin Trains is proud to sponsor the King and Queen of the Mountain for the Tour de Yorkshire 2018 – and to welcoming people on-board as they travel to one of the top events in the UK sporting calendar.”

The fourth edition of the race has been expanded from three to four stages and will take place between 3-6 May 2018.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: “We know how proud Mark Cavendish is of his family hailing from Yorkshire, and it was great that he could join us to launch the route for the Tour de Yorkshire 2018 by travelling up to the county with help from one of the Tour’s major sponsors, Virgin Trains. 

“Last year’s race attracted 2.2 million spectators and generated £64 million for the local economy, and now that is has been extended from three to four days, the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire promises to be the biggest and best one yet.” 

About Virgin Trains:

Stagecoach and Virgin are working in partnership to operate the East Coast and West Coast inter-city routes under the Virgin Trains brand. Together, they are on track to revolutionise rail travel across the UK.

The combined network connects some of the nation’s most iconic destinations including Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, York and London.

Virgin Trains is committed to delivering a high speed, high frequency service, offering shorter journey times, more comfortable travel and excellent customer service. Customers consistently rate Virgin Trains as one of the top long-distance rail franchise operators in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) commissioned by industry watchdog, Transport Focus.

On the East Coast route, £140m is being invested to create a more personalised travel experience. We have already invested over £40m in our existing fleet, including £21m refurbishing the interiors and £16m towards improving the engines of our trains. Customers can now benefit from 42 additional services between Edinburgh and London every week, and an extra 22 Saturday services between Leeds and London – a total of 1.74 million additional seats since May 2016. 2018 will see the introduction of completely new Azuma trains being built in the UK by Hitachi.

The West Coast route has a proud record of challenging the status quo - from introducing tilting Pendolino trains, to a pioneering automated delay repay scheme and becoming the first franchised rail operator to offer m-Tickets for all ticket types.

Working together, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors has published a long-term plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, to change and improve Britain’s railway. The plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits to the country and contains four commitments which will see rail companies: strengthen our economic contribution to the country; improve customers’ satisfaction; boost the communities we serve; and, create more and better jobs in rail. For more information go to Britain Runs on Rail.

Virgin Azuma will revolutionise travel when it arrives on the east coast mainline from 2018. The fleet of 65 trains will provide an additional 12,200 seats and increase Virgin Trains’ capacity into King’s Cross by 28 per cent during peak time.

The new train reaches 125mph in around 4 minutes 40 seconds, compared with around 5 minutes 40 seconds for our current electric-powered trains and around 11 minutes for our current diesel-powered trains.

There will be new destinations, such as Middlesbrough, and more services connecting Bradford, Harrogate and Lincoln to London. Twenty-two minutes will be sliced off East Coast journeys. London to Edinburgh in just four hours, and London to Leeds in two hours will become the norm throughout the day.

Azuma will take customer experience to a new level and deliver all the comfort and style that Virgin is famous for: ergonomically designed seats throughout; some of the best leg room you’ll find on UK trains; free and faster Wi-Fi*; power sockets for every seat; superior onboard catering in First and Standard Class, including the Virgin Trains’ Foodbar; and a distinctive Virgin look and feel, inside and out.

Hitachi is building the Azuma fleet in the UK at its purpose built £82million facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, which employs 900 people, including over 50 apprentices.

Azuma is part of a £5.7bn investment by the Department for Transport in new inter-city trains.

* For customers who book via our website.

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