A new look First Class Lounge has been opened at Wakefield station today with a little help from singer and TV presenter Jane McDonald as Virgin Trains continues to give its east coast route a makeover.
Eight lounges between London and Edinburgh have been given the Virgin treatment, tripling the seating capacity and providing more options to hold meetings, work and unwind in a stylish environment.
A splash of red has been introduced into the innovative lounge designs, which include new meeting points, desks for customers to work at and relaxation spots to unwind. Free wifi and powerpoints have been provided throughout, along with soft drinks, snacks and newspapers.
Wakefield’s new lounge can comfortably hostsixteen customers – twice the previous capacity of eight customers – and the investment will help Virgin Trains drive further growth in First Class travel among business people who can prepare for meetings onboard and leisure passengers treating themselves to a luxury journey.
In the first year since Virgin Trains took over services on the east coast route, First Class travel has grown by 6%.
The latest improvements come after Virgin Trains embarked on a £21m refurbishment of its trains, including putting leather seat covers in First Class.
Wakefield is the second lounge to open this week following a Virgin-style makeover. Lounges opened at Newcastle on Tuesday and Doncaster is set to be unveiled this afternoon. Lounges will open at Darlington tomorrow, and Leeds, Edinburgh, London King’s Cross and Berwick in the following weeks.
Neil Rodgers, Service Director of Planning Transportation and Highways Wakefield Council, who performed the official ribbon-cutting during the opening ceremony said: “It’s always great to hear about investment in our railways to encourage more people to do business in Wakefield and make our region even more attractive to visitors.”
Maxine Joicey, General Manager for Virgin Trains, addedd: “Our amazing lounge transformation at Wakefield Westgate Station is the latest investment that will help us lift the experience for our First Class customers and stand us apart from any other mode of transport.
“We know that being able to relax ahead of a journey or prepare for that key business meeting is one of the things that our customers really value. We’re confident that providing some Virgin style to these lounges will help us to meet this increasing demand for First Class travel.”
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. This includes a major fleet revamp, smarter stations and exciting new routes. From May 2016, there will be 42 additional services (22,000 extra seats) per week between Edinburgh and London. 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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