As of Sunday, to coincide with the introduction of the summer national rail timetable, Virgin will have upgraded all its rolling stock, with 131 new trains running on both its networks, according to Virgin Trains sales and marketing director Craig Inglis.
The company is ploughing more than £8m into an integrated advertising blitz to support the overhaul and try to establish itself as the next-generation InterCity network.
The marketing strategy, which is based on a 'return of the train' theme, will see TV ads running from Sunday. The ads, created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, feature the new Pendolino trains with images from classic films such as Some Like It Hot and North by Northwest superimposed.
The campaign will be backed by posters at mainline stations and city sites to tempt drivers to take the train. Executions will also appear online and on interactive TV, the first time that Virgin Trains has used the medium.
The operator is planning to give away 12,500 first class journeys via extensive sampling in shopping centres.
Virgin Trains, which runs the Cross-Country and West Coast line routes, started introducing the Pendolino trains on the West Coast line last year. However, Inglis said it had decided not to run a heavyweight campaign promoting the move 'until the glitches were ironed out'.