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UK's Virgin Trains See Record Sales in DecemberJanuary 6, 2011 By: Jena Tesse Fox
One industry isn't too upset about the recent rough weather in both Europe and the East Coast of the U.S.: Train companies in both continents saw travelers avoid the skies and head for the rails as airports shut down and snow and wind made flying impossible.
In the UK, Virgin Trains had record sales during the run-up to Christmas, despite some of the worst December weather for more than 40 years.
Ticket sales increased by 5 percent during the seven days leading up to Christmas (December 18-24), compared to the same period in 2009. More than 430,000 tickets were sold during the week on the West Coast line, serving Scotland, North-West England, north Wales and the Midlands.
The growth came as Virgin Trains maintained a full advertised timetabled service throughout most of the week before Christmas, in spite of snow that closed many airports and brought the road network to a standstill.
Virgin Trains ran services to all destinations throughout the freezing conditions, and staff and partners such as Network Rail, and train maintenance companies Alstom and Bombardier worked around the clock to ensure services kept going. This meant that, during December, Virgin Trains ran well over 90 percent of services on its 750-mile network.
Many travelers who abandoned flights to and from Ireland decided to travel by train and ferry and others took the train to and from Glasgow rather than risk heavy airport disruption. Thousands more customers also travelled with Virgin Trains after their services on other routes were disrupted, although these figures are not included in the record sales.
Virgin Trains also saw a record number of seat reservations made over the two-week period (December 15-January 3) with over 620,000 made, up 14 percent on the previous year.