Virgin Train departs from London Euston for the final time after 22 years

A Virgin Train has pulled up at a station for the final time after 22 years.

UK’s longest-running rail franchise is no more after being replaced by Avanti West Coast.

The Virgin Train departed on its final trip from London Euston to Wolverhampton at 9.42pm on Saturday night.

The company thanked its passengers in a tweet and agreed with a user they wished it was all a bad dream and they were staying.

Virgin Trains, which is owned by Virgin Group and Stagecoach, lost the route after the Department for Transport disqualified it over a disagreement about pensions.

It had been operating the West Coast Main Line since 1997 and had completed nearly 500 million journeys.

Avanti West Coast promised a ‘big change’ in the quality of carriages.

First Rail managing director Steve Montgomery described the 56 Pendolinos it inherited from Virgin Trains as ‘tired’.

He said the former operator had ‘done a good job’ but said the type of contracts it was given ‘restrict’ investment into rail franchises.

Since 2012, the Department for Transport handed Virgin Trains a series of short-term deals which did not involve a bidding process.

Avanti West Coast – a joint venture by Aberdeen-based transport company FirstGroup and Italian firm Trenitalia – took over running services on the route today.

It is vowing to significantly improve the carriages used with a £117 million refurbishment of the Pendolinos and replacing Super Voyagers with new trains.

The revamped trains will have 25,000 new seats, more reliable wi-fi and improved catering.

The first train overhaul is expected to be completed by early autumn 2020.

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