Avanti West Coast train services were launched on December 8, taking over the operation of long-distance train services on the West Coast Main Line from Virgin Trains who ran the service for 22 years.
During the official ceremony, Raffaele Trombetta, the Italian Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Gregory, chief executive of FirstGroup, and Orazio Iacono, Managing Director of Trenitalia, named the train ‘Pride and Prosperity’ in recognition of the values the new railway will bring.
“We’re honoured to begin operating intercity services on the West Coast Main Line, one of the busiest railways in Europe, that will bring a host of improvements for the millions of people who use it every year,” the Managing Director of Trenitalia said.
The Avanti name, (Italian for Let’s Go, and Forward) symbolises progress and movement and the triangular logo represents the three geographic points of the 400-mile long West Coast Main Line that connects London with towns and cities across England, North Wales and Scotland.
The FirstGroup-Trenitalia partnership brings a package of improvements for customers. The 56 Pendolino trains will be completely refurbished to as new condition, with 25,000 new seats, more reliable Wi-Fi, and power sockets for all passengers.
“We’re delighted to start serving the customers who take 40 million journeys every year on the west coast. We’ll bring families, friends, businesses and communities closer together with new trains and new destinations. We’re excited to get our plans underway and take services to the next level,” Steve Montgomery, Managing Director of First Rail said.
By 2022, there will be 263 extra train services every week to more places and a fleet of new, state of the art intercity trains will replace the current Voyager trains. There’ll also be simplified fares, improved on-board catering and compensation if trains are delayed by 15 minutes.
Stations will be also be improved with refreshed waiting rooms, better customer facilities, more car park spaces and greater accessibility for passengers with additional travel needs.
As well as the Avanti services, The West Coast Partnership also includes West Coast Partnership Development, which will be the ‘shadow operator’ for future high-speed rail services. It will design, develop and mobilise operations for the new line working with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.