New west coast train firm, which will run trains to Preston and Blackpool, to be called Avanti
Avanti West Coast will be the name of the new InterCity West Coast rail franchise, FirstGroup and Trenitalia, the new operators have revealed.
Avanti is Italian for “Forward!” and reflects a mission to deliver an innovative railway service that is “ready for today and fit for the future”, according to the new operator partnership which is replacing Richard Branson's Virgin Trains.
FirstGroup and Trenitalia will, from December 8, take over the operation of InterCity West Coast rail services, and say it will offer a more comfortable, reliable and greener service.
The service will link Lancashire to London and towns across England, North Wales and Scotland, serving as a “vital economic artery bringing cities and people closer together”.
The Avanti West Coast logo, created by design agency forpeople, is a bright orange triangle, symbolising the geographic extent of the 400-mile long route that serves cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow as well as London and North Wales.
Under the new West Coast Partnership, First Trenitalia said it was committed to delivering a range of passenger enhancements for InterCity West Coast services and passengers would get more trains, more seats, simplified fares and more frequent services.
The 56 Pendolino trains will be completely refurbished with 25,000 new seats, more reliable Wi-Fi and improved catering. By 2022, there will be 263 more train services every week to more places and a fleet of new trains introduced.
Avanti said fares and ticket types will be simplified with mobile tickets and smartcards introduced.
Stations will be improved with refreshed waiting rooms, better customer facilities, more car park spaces, and greater accessibility for those who need it.
The partnership said it will also pave the way for a new era in high speed rail in the UK in the coming years, working with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.
The new brand and logo were unveiled at an event in Birmingham attended by more than 200 guests.
Speaking at the launch of the new brand, 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.
“We’re looking forward to taking over the franchise in 11 days’ time and we are very pleased and proud to be working with Trenitalia, a strong partner who is committed to playing an increasing role in UK rail and has many years of expertise in the high-speed sector in Italy.
“We are committed to our customers and over the next few years, we will work with our industry and local partners not only to invest in, and improve, rail services on the route, but also to attract more people to rail and connect communities across the country.”
Ernesto Sicilia, managing director, Trenitalia (UK) Ltd, said: "It’s an amazing honour to partner with FirstGroup. After our entrance into the British market in 2017, today marks another step in our ambition to play a positive role in the UK rail industry, in which we see a great future.
“Avanti West Coast is a strong, progressive and dynamic brand that reflects our commitment to providing our customers with an exceptional service. We are thrilled that the name Avanti has been chosen to represent these values to our customers and pays tribute to our expertise in transforming Italian railways.”