| Virgin Trains offers 100% digital tickets
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Virgin Trains has become the first train operator to offer 100 percent of its ticket types digitally. The new addition of monthly and annual season tickets in this format means that Virgin Trains now offers a digital version of every fare.
| Virgin Trains uniforms put to good use for the homeless
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Virgin Trains will donate blankets, scarves and dog coats which have been made from old staff uniforms to homeless charities. The upcycled clothes – many of which are in Virgin Train’s signature colour of red – were transformed by prisoners at HMP Northumberland at their onsite textile factory.
| Virgin Trains supports MyTime project
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In June, Virgin Trains was delighted to support the MyTime Project, a small community-based project based in Merseyside that provides support groups for children who have a parent in prison.
| Virgin Trains opens the door to the first ever Calm Corner
In June, Virgin Trains opened the doors to ‘The Calm Corner’ at Crewe station – a room which has been specifically designed to offer customers with hidden disabilities a safe and calm environment. The inspiration for the room, which is the first of its kind on a UK railway network, came from Megan Hughes who was on work experience with Virgin Trains. She came up with the suggestion based on her personal experience of having Asperger Syndrome. The idea was brought to life with the help of Network Rail, London Northwestern Railway and SLC Rail, with advice from Direct Access on room layout and Boss Design for choice of furniture.
To support the opening of The Calm Corner, members of the Virgin Trains team at Crewe have undergone training to help them identify those customers in need of help, distinguishing between the different types of hidden disabilities and how best to respond to and support someone that may be having difficulty with the station environment.
| All aboard the Virgin Trains Chat Carriage
On 14 June, Virgin Trains customers were invited to strike up a conversation with a fellow traveller in our new ‘Chat Carriage’. Coach C on a number of Virgin Trains Pendolino services were converted into the ‘Chat Carriage’ to support the BBC’s Crossing Divides on the Move Day, an initiative designed to get people to better engage with each other, especially when travelling on public transport.
To help facilitate those conversations customers buying a hot drink on a select number of Virgin Trains services were given a second drink free of charge and encouraged to share it with a someone sitting close by as a means of sparking up a conversation, be it about the weather, their destination or where they have travelled from or what they are up to at the weekend.
| Charity open day raises in excess of £50k
Despite the best efforts of the British weather, over five thousand visitors descended on Crewe Station on June 8th, raising in excess of £50,000 for charity. The “Crewe All Change” open day was run in partnership between Virgin Trains, Locomotive Services (TOC) Limited and The Railway Magazine.
Charities who benefitted included NET Patient Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, The Railway Children, St John’s Ambulance and a number of other local good causes.
The event was run in memory of Alison Austin, daughter of Lyn Gillan and brother of Melvyn, who both work at Crewe station. Alison lost her brave fight against Neuroendocrine Cancer last year. Virgin Trains’ Pendolino 390115 was named ‘Crewe – All Change’ by the family, with the help of Councillor Benn Minshall, Mayor of Crewe Town Council, to reflect the town’s key role in the railway both historically and in the years to come. The train also carries Alison’s name on its cab ends.
In addition to the train naming, guests were treated to a behind the scenes look at Crewe Diesel Depot – the doors opened for the first time in over a decade. Over 40 diesel and electric trains from around the network were on show, reflecting the Diesel Depot’s modern history.
| Virgin Trains gets behind The Big LEGO® Brick Hospital
Runcorn Station played host to The Big LEGO® Brick Hospital in early August. Customers were given the chance to buy a brick for £1 and help build the model which, when finished, will be one of the biggest ever LEGO® brick structures in the UK, measuring 1.6m x 2.8m x 1.6m.
In addition, Virgin Trains donated £4,000, with the station team showing their skills to build two specialist rooms for the model, which will contain more than 100 rooms and 200 mini figures, such as doctors and nurses.
The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity’s campaign is aiming to raise £500,000 towards construction of the specialist hospital in the centre of Liverpool and improvements to their Wirral site. The real new cancer hospital is set to open its doors in 2020.