Virgin invests £1 billion in new ‘Voyager’ stock

Virgin is tackling the rail crisis head-on by investing £1bn in new high speed, airline-style trains, unveiled this week. The “Voyager” fleet is designed by Jervis Hegarty Losasso, Start Design and Priestman Goode.

The 125mph trains aim to cut journey times and “raise the quality of rail travel significantly”, says a Virgin spokesman. They claim to be the first in the UK to offer airline-inspired audio entertainment at each seat and on-board shops selling items such as newspapers and chilled food – replacing old-style buffet cars.

The interiors aim to reflect this new approach, says Jervis Hegarty Losasso director Murray Jervis. It has introduced subtle spotlighting with day and night settings, and individual reading lights to replace “garish” strip lights normally found on trains, he says.

“Passengers will be able to snooze more easily with subdued lighting – just like on a plane,” adds Jervis. JHL has created Bauhaus-inspired geometric upholstery fabrics in indigo and red colourways for standard class, and navy blue for first class. Carpets throughout feature blurred imagery to lend an impression of speed.

London consultancy Start Design has created all external livery for the trains, including red-and-white streamlined branding on the train “noses” and silver carriages. Industrial design group Priestman Goode has developed all external and internal hardware such as seats, luggage racks, toilets and aerodynamic front-ends.

“Our job is to maintain the Virgin brand identity across all ‘objects’ passengers come into contact with,” says Priestman Goode director Ian Scoley.

The first Voyagers will enter service during Summer 2001, and by Summer 2003, services will be running on the CrossCountry network from Scotland to Wales, the west coast of England and the South Coast.

Tilting versions will run on the “curvaceous” West Coast route.

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