THE FIRST half-hourly train service to run between West Yorkshire and London, six days a week, will begin in May, Virgin Trains announced yesterday.
An extra 15 services will be scheduled daily, except Sundays, on the east coast main line, which serves Leeds, Wakefield and Doncaster.
The new journeys are in addition to seven introduced last December. Between them, the new services add 600,000 more seats.
Eight new services will run northbound to Wakefield and Leeds from London King’s Cross on Saturdays from 21 May. Seven new southbound services will be introduced from Leeds and Wakefield, while a further southbound service will leave Leeds on Sunday mornings, calling at Wakefield. Return journey times are expected to be around six minutes faster.
Natasha Wilding, Virgin’s general manager on the east coast route, said: “We’re bringing in more services at weekends so that, for the first time, we’ll have a train every half an hour from Leeds and Wakefield to London, six days a week.”
The company also announced that from Monday, “up to 100,000” one-way tickets between Leeds, Wakefield and London would be offered for £7.60, around half the current cheapest fare.
The promotion, which Virgin said was aimed at encouraging travellers to leave their cars at home, runs until April 12.
Gerald Jennings, president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said the new services would serve an increase in “current and forecast demand”.
He said: “The additional services will increase choice for the customer and also underline the importance of the Leeds City Region to Virgin Trains.”
Next year, Virgin will introduce Hitachi’s “Azuma” trains on the east coast line, the first newly-built units since the introduction of the InterCity 225 locomotives, nearly 30 years ago.
The operator, which is 90 per cent owned by the transport group Stagecoach, took over the east coast line two years ago, following the withdrawal of its previous franchisee, National Express, and a subsequent renationalisation.