12 DECEMBER 2011

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Article from BTNews 12 DECEMBER 2011

Branson in Virgin Trains push

Sir Richard Branson last week set out his vision for continuing growth for rail travel in the UK as Virgin Trains welcomed record numbers of passengers and made an emphatic plea to retain the West Coast franchise.

Virgin Trains is expected to carry 30 million customers in the current year, more than doubling numbers in seven years.

Sir Richard said that innovation and quality had been key drivers in growing passenger numbers on West Coast and made clear that a strong bid would be submitted when the franchise comes up for renewal in 2012.  “Bids should be a beauty parade of innovation and quality and not simply judged on bottom line results.  If you just go for the bottom line you will have the cheapest of everything and that’s not what people want.  We are waiting to see whether the new franchise will be based purely on the bottom line, but are hopeful that the Government will be taking innovative ideas into account.”

Asked about plans for UK high-speed rail Sir Richard said there were many good points about HS2 and that Virgin would like to be involved in discussions about developing plans for urgently needed extra capacity. www.virgintrains.co.uk

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