With the end of the Virgin Trains franchise taking place at 01:59am on December 8 after 22 years of running trains between London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh, they’re going out with a bang!
To celebrate all that Virgin has achieved since it launched in 1997, the company has created a tongue-in-cheek music video featuring founder Sir Richard Branson, celebrities from across two decades, including Mr Blobby and actor Shaun Williamson, and a host of Virgin staff.
In addition, the December issue of The Railway Magazine, senior correspondent Ben Jones will review what Virgin achieved in those 22 years, from inheriting well-used locomotives and carriages from British Rail to introducing two new fleets of train which revolutionised travel on the West Coast Main Line and now carries 40 million annually on Virgin Trains. The issue is on sale on December 4.
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From 02:00am on December 9, services will be run by First Group and Trenitalia, and their launch and proposals will be reported in the January 2020 issue on sale January 5.
Mr Blobby & Shaun Williamson have the ‘time of their lives’
As Sir Richard Branson welcomes ‘all aboard’ for their ‘final journey’, a host of Virgin staff, the classic 90’s character Mr Blobby and, EastEnders favourite, Shaun Williamson, who played Barry from 1994-2004, get the party started while dancing to the Dirty Dancing classic, Time of my Life.
A host of classic memorabilia from the last 22 years make an appearance in the tongue-in-cheek video with everything including a boombox, ‘brick’ mobile phone, and the popular era shell suits. There are of course some clips of the Virgin Trains rolling stock used in service over the years too.
In the 1990s Virgin saw a future in UK railways and secured one of the highest profile rail franchises. 20 years on it has transformed travel but for the first 10 years it was a tumultuous ride.
Steven Knight, who for more than 12 years was part of Virgin Rail’s media, staff and stakeholder communications team, reflects on the last 20 years. Read the full story here.