Virgin's Sunderland service celebrates its first birthday

Virgin Trains '˜ Sunderland service is on the right track as it celebrates its first birthday today.

Denise Blas presents the Spirit of Sunderland nameplate to Coun Harry Trueman
Denise Blas presents the Spirit of Sunderland nameplate to Coun Harry Trueman

The firm’s power car 43274 was named the “Spirit of Sunderland” to mark the arrival of its inaugural daily service into London King’s Cross last year.

Now an identical replica commemorative name plate has been presented to Sunderland City Council to mark the first anniversary.

The council worked closely with the company to launch and promote the service last year, including helping with a special design for the power car, complete with city landmarks, iconic images and “Spirit of Sunderland” plates.

Deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman collected the plate from Virgin crewmember Denise Blas.

“It’s really important for the biggest city between Leeds and Edinburgh to have a direct link to the capital,” he said.

“It’s really useful for businesses and leisure travellers, including shoppers, and great that they can go from Sunderland city centre direct into the centre of London with Virgin Trains.

“I am delighted to receive this plate on behalf of Sunderland City Council and to continue to work with Virgin Trains to help grow its service from the city.”

Denise was delighted to be chosen to make the presentation: “I’m so proud to be from Sunderland and to have helped to launch the service last year,” she said.

“This included meeting Sunderland football players Lee Cattermole and Fabio Borini at the Stadium of Light – which was great as a big fan of the club and season ticket holder.

“I’ve really enjoyed working on this service and was really pleased to hand over this plate to the council on behalf of Virgin Trains.”

Virgin operates the 5.40am departure from Sunderland on Mondays to Fridays, arriving into King’s Cross at 9.06am. The return service departs at 8pm and gets into Sunderland at 11.20pm.

General Manager Claire Ansley said: “We will continue to work with the council as we look to grow our service ahead of an additional return service from 2020.”