Virgin Trains named top transport operator in Scotland

The Virgin Trains team receiving their award from Sanjeev Kohli. Picture: Transport Times
The Virgin Trains team receiving their award from Sanjeev Kohli. Picture: Transport Times
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Virgin Trains was named as best public transport operator at the Scottish Transport Awards last night.

The train firm, which runs services between Edinburgh, Glasgow and London on both the east and west coast main lines, was honoured for improvements such as its BEAM entertainment app for streaming free video on passengers' mobile devices.

The judges for the 15th annual awards said that had helped improve satisfaction scores and eased demand for onboard wi-fi.

Patrick McGrath, Virgin Trains executive director for human resources on the west coast route, said: “This is a wonderful recognition of the hard work Virgin Trains has put in over the last 20 years to transform customer services and improve rail connections between England and Scotland.

"We have seen investment, innovation and a relentless focus on customer experience which has helped make rail more popular than ever and we want to play a leading role in continuing that great success story.”

David Horne, managing director of Virgin Trains’ east coast route, said: “We started our Virgin Trains journey just over two years ago and have already seen a root-and-branch overhaul over the service we provide to customers."

Inverness won airport of the year against competition from Edinburgh and Glasgow, for a range of terminal improvements.

General manager Graeme Bell said: “This award is a real vote of confidence for the airport

"We were up against strong competition, but with new routes and record passenger numbers, Inverness Airport continues to go from strength to strength.

“The airport is a key player in the economic growth of the region and local economy, with increased connectivity providing Highland customers and businesses with better transport links."

Former Edinburgh City Council leader Andrew Burns received an award for outstanding contribution to transport.

He spearheaded the city's tram scheme and its ill-fated congestion charge plans while transport convener from 2001 to 2006.

The judges said: "He put sustainable transport at the heart of the council's strategy and his legacy on road safety, cycling and pedestrian improvements will be long lasting."

South Lanarkshire Council was local authority of the year for improving cycle routes, park and ride sites and electric vehicle charging points, working with Sustrans and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

First Scotland East bus driver Ian Davidson was named front line employee of the year for helping children after spotting a bus crash near Stirling.

Other awards at the ceremony, hosted by actor Sanjeev Kohli, included for Edinburgh's School Streets project to close surrounding roads to encourage walking and cycling; pedestrian campaigners Living Streets' Walking to School campaign; and Glasgow City Council's cycling development plans.