Virgin Trains has celebrated its first anniversary on the East Coast.
The train operator began operating services on the East Coast Main Line on March 1, 2015, serving key UK cities including London, Leeds, York, Newcastle and some of the main Scottish cities.
Existing train stock has been given a re-design with brand new exteriors, engines and new interiors being rolled out across the fleet.
There are also new seats in Standard class and new carpets and lighting.
As well as this, the company has already committed to invest more than £40 million on fleet improvements, with £21m being spent on refurbishment, £16m on engines and £5m on re-branding.
A total of £140m will be invested over the length of the franchise to help deliver a more customer focused, more Virgin travel experience.
The new routes from Sunderland has been well-received and in May, 2015, 42 additional services will be added between Edinburgh and London each week, equating to over 22,000 extra seats per day.
David Horne, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on its east coast route, said: “This is only the first year of our eight-year franchise but the transformation is already underway.
“We’re paying more to tax-payers and investing more for customers.
“We’re committed to great value – including a ten per cent cut in Standard Anytime fares on long-distance journeys to and from London, and are focused on delivering that Virgin sparkle to the customer experience.
“We’ve injected a sense of fun into the business – enlisting the views of our front-line people to introduce exciting new menu changes.
“At the same time, we’re focusing on practical improvements such as over delivering over 500 extra parking spaces across the route and free Wi-Fi for our managed stations.
“We’re also counting down to 2018 with the introduction of our state-of-the-art new British-built trains and faster journey times to key cities such as Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. We’ll have more news on these soon.”
Councillor Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, added: “The service continues to be is very important for the travelling public. It shows the continuing strength and attraction of Sunderland and the North East as a location for visitors and for investors.
“The growing number of passengers and services show how important the rail network is for the social and economic fabric of our city and across the region. We look forward to hearing about more investment in our rail infrastructure, its services and the benefits it continues to bring to Sunderland.”