A new look First Class Lounge has been opened at Newcastle Central Station as Virgin Trains continues to give its east coast route a makeover.
Eight lounges between London and Edinburgh have been given the Virgin treatment, doubling the seating capacity and providing more options to hold meetings, work and unwind in a stylish environment.
Newcastle is the first newly refurbished lounge to open on the route, and the other seven will follow in the next few weeks.
A splash of red has been introduced into the innovative lounge designs, which include new meeting points, desks for customers to work at and relaxation spots to unwind. Free wifi and powerpoints have been provided throughout, along with soft drinks, snacks and newspapers.
Newcastle now has room to comfortably host 68 customers – more than three times the previous figure – and the investment will help Virgin Trains drive further growth in First Class travel among business people who can prepare for meetings onboard and leisure passengers treating themselves to a luxury journey.
In the first year since Virgin Trains took over services on the east coast route, First Class travel has grown by 6%.
The latest improvements come after Virgin Trains embarked on a £21m refurbishment of its trains, including putting leather seats in First Class as well as new carpets and mood-lighting.
Lounges at Darlington and Berwick will open in the next week, with lounges at London King’s Cross, Edinburgh, Leeds, Wakefield and Doncaster stations also set to join Newcastle in having a Virgin-style makeover.
James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s fantastic seeing this significant development at these North East stations. This will both improve the experience for our members travelling on the East Coast Main Line, and make our region even more attractive to visitors.
“Our rail links are a critical element in building the kind of connected North East that businesses want to see. The continued investment by Virgin Trains in our services and infrastructure is extremely welcome.”
David Horne, Virgin Trains’ Managing Director for the east coast route, said: “This fantastic new look lounge at Newcastle Central Station is the latest investment that will help us lift the experience for our First Class customers.
“We know that being able to relax ahead of a journey or prepare for that key business meeting is one of the things that our customers really value. We’re confident that providing some Virgin style to these lounges will help us to meet this increasing demand for First Class travel.”
Cabinet Member for Investment and Development at Newcastle City Council, Councillor Ged Bell, added: “The first class lounge at Central Station is a welcome addition to the multi-million refurbishment that has made the station a magnificent gateway to the region.
“Virgin have done a splendid job with their latest investment. It will enhance the passenger experience and demonstrate how serious we are about making Newcastle Central Station one of the country’s best railway destinations.”