Virgin announces new East Coast timetable - with extra weekend trains and more low-cost fares for Doncaster passengers

Virgin is introducing a new timetable.
Virgin is introducing a new timetable.

Virgin Trains has announced more Saturday services and low cost fares on the East Coast Main Line for Doncaster passengers.

Saturday services are set to be transformed with the biggest increase in the number of trains since electrification of route in 1990.

More than 12,500 more seats for customers will be made available with Leeds, York and Newark to benefit from 24 additional services while 6,000 more low-cost advance fares will be available per week.

The new timetable, part of a £140m investment in the route by Virgin Trains, will see more frequent services to and from destinations including Leeds, York and Newark Northgate - meaning customers will benefit from a similar frequency of services to those enjoyed on weekdays.

In total, 151 services will operate every Saturday, only six fewer than on weekdays.

Around 6,000 additional tickets will go on sale for under £30 every week to destinations including York, Doncaster, Newark, Peterborough and Grantham. For example, customers travelling between London and Newark will be able to find tickets from as low as £12.50, while fares between York and London start at £16.

From December 17, there will be a further 24 Saturday services, an increase of 45% compared to when Virgin Trains took over the east coast route in March 2015.

This will add 12,574 more seats to Virgin Trains’ existing capacity. The timetable represents the biggest increase in Saturday services since the introduction of Intercity 225 trains in 1990, following electrification of the East Coast Mainline.

York customers wanting to reach the capital for a 7am start on weekdays will benefit from a 4.40am service, giving them an extra 1hr12m in London than was possible under the previous timetable. This follows calls from the business community for a service that enables them to get to the capital for early-morning meetings.

The new timetable will accelerate journeys from Leeds and Wakefield to London by seven minutes on Saturdays making the trip from Wakefield an average of two hours long. A Sunday evening service from London to Doncaster which leaves at 10.05pm will be extended to York, allowing those wishing to make the most of a weekend in London to catch a later service home.

David Horne, Virgin Trains Managing Director on the east coast route, said he was confident the timetable changes would attract more people to rail: "Our new timetable brings new services that we know our customers want as well as thousands of low cost seats.

"Six days of the week, customers will be able to enjoy the most frequent service we’ve ever seen on the east coast mainline and we’re not stopping there.

"Our £140m investment is about reducing journey times, increasing the frequency of services, and giving customers a great experience on-board with refurbished trains and refreshed on-board catering – for less.

"We’re confident that these investments will make it easier, cheaper and quicker than many think to travel by train."