New owners FirstGroup and Trenitalia this week unveiled the brand for the new Intercity West Coast franchise, ending Virgin’s 22-year tenure

 
A visualisation of a Pendolino with the new Avanti West Coast brand

 
Avanti West Coast was this week unveiled as the brand for the new Intercity West Coast rail franchise, which begins on December 8.

The new owners, FirstGroup and Trenitalia, the Italian state railway company, explained that Avanti, which is Italian for “Forward!”, reflects a mission to deliver an innovative railway service that is “ready for today and fit for the future”. The Avanti West Coast logo is a bright orange triangle, symbolising the geographic extent of the 400-mile West Coast route.

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Speaking at the launch of the new brand in Birmingham on Wednesday, Steve Montgomery, managing director of First Rail, said: “Today marks the start of a new era in high-speed rail services – one that will generate national prosperity and pride. Avanti West Coast enshrines the type of forward-thinking operation we intend to run, that’s ready for today and fit for the future.”

The new owners are retaining the services of Phil Whittingham, who has been managing director of Virgin Trains since 2013. He will now become MD of the Intercity West Coast business. Caroline Donaldson, currently bid director at FirstGroup, will meanwhile become the MD of the West Coast Partnership Development, providing design and development services to support the future operation of services using HS2.

Avanti’s arrival will end Virgin’s 22-year tenure of the West Coast franchise. The company launched a tongue-in-cheek music video featuring its founder Sir Richard Branson, celebrities and staff to “wave goodbye” and celebrate its achievements – which include nearly trebling passenger numbers.

By 2022, there will be 263 more West Coast train services every week to more destinations.

 
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This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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