Virgin Trains bosses say they’re pleased with the response to their new Sunderland service.
On Monday, the first Spirit of Sunderland train left the city centre station bound for London’s King’s Cross.
It departs daily on week days at 5.40am, arriving in the capital at 9.08am, and returning at 8pm.
It’s the earliest service to leave the station each day and is aimed at business travellers and day-trippers.
A spokesman for Virgin Trains, said: “It’s early days, and the level of passengers is in line with expectation.
“We are extremely positive that bookings will continue to grow over the coming months.”
Rail minister Claire Perry said: “It’s only going to get better.
“From 2019 there will be two services a day, and the year after that these trains will be replaced with state-of-the-art Intercity trains built in Newton Aycliffe, again supporting the renaissance of the North East.
“This is a great service and a great thing for a wonderful part of the country.”
The extended Virgin Trains east coast mainline service builds upon the direct Sunderland to London service already offered by Grand Central trains, which has been operating in the city for some time using the Teesside line.
l We’ve teamed up with Virgin Trains to give away a pair of first class open tickets from Sunderland to London, worth more than £300.
To be in with a chance of winning, see tomorrow’s Echo.