MEDIA: Virgin Trains hires River for customer mag task

Virgin Trains has handed the contract to publish its customer magazine Hotline to River Publishing as it rolls out its state-of-the-art tilting trains and promises passengers "a new beginning".

River won the contract following a six-way pitch, which included Cedar, Mediamark and incumbent John Brown Citrus Publishing.

Hotline will be revamped to support Virgin's new cross-country service Voyager and Pendolino trains on the west coast line from January. Both trains have on-board radio channels, power points for lap-tops and mobile phones and walk-in shops. The new-look Hotline aims to enhance customer's journey experience with features about entertainment, leisure and travel.

However its aim is also to inform passengers about the new trains and will include listings for the on-board radio services.

River's appointment follows the launch of a £7.5m campaign to promote Virgin's high-speed tilting trains and to move away from the problems that have dogged the UK's rail network.

The TV ads are through Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. The campaign promises the birth of a new era in rail travel.

But problems of overcrowding on the Voyager fleet has led to some 70s trains being brought out of retirement. The problems have been caused by the smaller seating capacity of the new trains and the availability of cheap fare deals. In addition, signalling problems on the modernised west coast line mean Virgin's Pendolino trains will be restricted to top speeds of 125mph as opposed to their 145mph capability.

River also publishes Info the magazine for Virgin Atlantic Airways and Dave magazine for Virgin Student.

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