Virgin Trains: A Pictorial Tribute (Pen & Sword)

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When British Railways (BR) was privatised in April 1994 a series of passenger franchises was created that included services on both the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and competing West Coast Main Line (WCML) routes.

The WCML franchise was won by Virgin Trains and it quickly set about improving service by introducing a range of standard trainsets to replace the variety of traction fleets that it had inherited. It also became a constant critic of Government policy which promised much but offered little as the company found itself battling to establish the standards of service that it had promised within its franchise agreement but found other bodies within the industry reluctant to support.

Fred Kerr lives at Southport hence his nearness to the WCML and his book seeks to illustrate the period of changes that Virgin Trains initiated from the immediate application of a startling livery to the introduction of new trainsets and the problems of establishing a new timetable to make the most of the new trainsets.

The operation of the WCML franchise identified problems with both the nature and structure of the franchise system which were exemplified when the company finally managed to win the ECML franchise although it surrendered the latter when major problems were identified by the company.

The company subsequently lost the WCML franchise and hence its involvement with train operations within the United Kingdom and Fred Kerr’s book seeks to explain the history of Virgin Trains involvement in train operations through a comprehensive collection of photographs showing the traction fleet that it inherited and the new fleets it introduced to service. Hardback. 128 pages.

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