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Driver marks Virgin Train’s £2 million investment at Polmadie

2 September 2010  •  Source: Virgin Trains

Passengers will benefit from further improvements in the performance of rail services on the West Coast Main Line thanks to investment of more than £2 million by Virgin Trains in Glasgow.

Virgin’s Super Voyager tilting trains that link Glasgow and Edinburgh with Birmingham will be serviced at a new facility that was declared open today at Polmadie on the south side of the city.

Joe Porter, a train driver whose railway career at Polmadie stretches back to the last days of steam, inaugurated the new servicing unit by naming a Super Voyager train “Polmadie Depot”.

He was chosen by his colleagues who had asked Virgin Trains to mark the importance of Polmadie by naming a train.

Chris Gibb, Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Trains, who invited Joe to unveil the new cast metal nameplate on the side of the 125mph train, said: “Most days now, our trains are more than 90 per cent on time and the investment at Polmadie in a dedicated facility to service Super Voyager trains will help build on that improved performance.”

Chris Gibb praised the hard work of the people of Virgin Trains, Network Rail and the train suppliers Alstom and Bombardier for boosting reliability to the extent that last month’s Public Performance Measure* (PPM) for Virgin Trains was 93 per cent.

Among work carried out by the 118 people employed by Alstom Transport at the Glasgow traincare centre is overnight servicing for the 11 trains that Virgin operates from Scotland first thing each morning.

As well as the Virgin Trains’ drivers’ depot, the Glasgow site includes one of five traincare centres on the West Coast Main Line managed by Alstom Transport, builders and maintainers of the Pendolino electric train fleet operated by Virgin Trains to and from London Euston. In Glasgow, Alstom Transport teams also service Super Voyager diesel trains, which were built by Bombardier, whose main maintenance site for these trains is at Central Rivers in the East Midlands.

The development of the new Glasgow facility dedicated to diesel train maintenance maximises the opportunities for work on both types of train, by allowing most of the traincare centre at Polmadie to be devoted to Pendolinos while the new premises handle Super Voyagers.

The bespoke development for Super Voyagers increases the scope for preventive maintenance, diesel engine health checks and tilt mechanism repairs on these trains. More can be done in Glasgow without the need for the trains to go onto depots elsewhere.Roy Sullivan, Alstom Transport Mainline Operations Director, said: “Glasgow is very important to us. The depot plays a crucial role in our train maintenance strategy, making sure that Virgin and other train operators can deliver reliable services for their passengers.”

Bombardier’s Vice-President Services for the UK, Paul Roberts said: “This is an important development for our Super Voyager trains, demonstrating our dedication to and close working relationship with Virgin Trains, ensuring a high quality service for passengers travelling from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Birmingham and also between North Wales, Chester and London.”

Chris Gibb said: “The 52 Virgin Trains drivers who are based at Polmadie are very proud of the depot’s history, dating back to 1875 when the Caledonian Railway opened an engine shed there. We were delighted to accept their suggestion to name a train and that Joe Porter would be the ideal candidate for today’s event.”

“Joe began his railway career at Polmadie as a teenager more than 43 years ago when he cleaned steam locomotives. He started to shovel coal on them as a fireman just weeks before the last of these engines were replaced,” Chris Gibb added.

“In his time here, Joe has seen many changes from the end of steam to the arrival of diesels, followed by electric trains. He drove those and also the ill-fated Advanced Passenger Train. He now drives Virgin’s highly successful tilting trains, the Pendolinos and Super Voyagers.”

*PPM for long-distance train operators is the percentage of scheduled trains that run and reach their destination on time or less than ten minutes late. The Virgin Trains figure of 93 per cent was for the most recent reporting period, 4 weeks to 21 August.

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