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Virgin Trains encourages more people to ‘Get North’ with Great Exhibition of the North branding

Press release   •   Mar 23, 2018 16:21 GMT

David Horne, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on the east coast (left) with Michael Ellis, Minister of Arts, Heritage and Tourism (right)

In celebration of English Tourism Week, Virgin Trains has today (23 March) revealed a specially-branded Great Exhibition of the North train to encourage more people to travel north this summer.

The branded train will be used across the entire Virgin Trains East Coast route up to Edinburgh from 23 March to 9 September, the closing weekend of Great Exhibition of the North.

Great Exhibition of the North will be hosted in NewcastleGateshead, on behalf of Northern England, and is expected to reach an audience of three million people, including more than one million visitors travelling from across the UK and overseas.Virgin Trains have been announced as a premier partner for the Government-backed exhibition, which will celebrate great art and culture, design and innovations from across the North of England. 

David Horne, Managing Director of Virgin Trains on its east coast route, said: “We’re delighted to unveil our Great Exhibition of the North train and to support this wonderful celebration of design and innovation. It’s exciting to see the event really starting to take shape as we prepare to launch our new fleet of Azuma trains which will transform train travel across the UK, further connecting people in the North with London and Scotland.”

Carol Bell, Executive Director of Great Exhibition of the North, said: “As one of the UK's biggest travel brands, we’re delighted to team up with Virgin Trains to have a specially branded Great Exhibition of the North train on their popular East Coast train route.

“We’ll be welcoming visitors from far and wide so we hope it will help to bring a sense of excitement and anticipation to travellers up and down the country and encourage more and more people to Get North this summer!”

English Tourism Week, which takes place from 17 – 25 March, is an annual celebration. This event is just one of many which highlights the value and quality of tourism in England.

VisitEngland Director, Andrew Stokes, said: “English Tourism Week is all about celebrating the value and quality of tourism in England, and there are many great reasons to explore what’s on your doorstep. The range of activities from our quiet and cosy countryside to our roaring and vibrant cities gives our nation a rare flare you would struggle to find elsewhere in the world. And all steeped in our rich and wonderful heritage. The whole industry comes together during English Tourism Week to showcase the variety of tourism products across the country engaging locals and encouraging them to be tourists within their own area.”

Great Exhibition of the North will be the biggest event in England this year. It is free to attend and will tell the inspiring story of the North of England and how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped our present and are inspiring our future.

Visitors will begin their journey at one of three iconic venues – Great North Museum, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead – before joining three interconnected trails through 30 world-class venues and public spaces on either side of the River Tyne that celebrate the North’s achievements in art and culture, design, and innovation.

The Exhibition is expected to bring a £184 million boost to the North East, showing how cultural investment can benefit and inspire entire communities.

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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 interiors and £16m towards improving the engines of our trains. Customers can now benefit from 48 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 2015. 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.

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