Tickets have gone on sale for a new direct return rail service between Sunderland and London.
Virgin Trains is to operate the link to the capital from December 15 together with a new return service from Stirling to London King’s Cross from December 14.
The company will also sell tickets from today for an additional return from Leeds to London on Saturdays.
Sunderland gains a 05.40am departure, arriving in London at 9.08am. The return departs London at 8pm. Both services will be faster than existing direct trains to Sunderland, by seven minutes southbound and 11 minutes northbound, according to the company.
The additional weekday Stirling service departs at 5.26am, arriving in King’s Cross at 10.52am – 46 minutes faster than the existing 5.30am departure, which requires a change of train and arrives in London at 11.42am.
The train will also call at Falkirk Grahamstown and will link with an existing 6.26am train from Edinburgh Waverley. The return service will depart King’s Cross at 3pm, arriving in Stirling at 8.16pm.
Leeds will gain an additional 9.40am departure on Saturdays starting on October 17, arriving at King’s Cross at 11.51am. The return leaves London at 7.04pm and arrives in Leeds at 9.21pm.
Virgin Trains managing director, David Horne, said: “This is a hugely exciting day for us as we move towards operating more services, and adding Sunderland to the Virgin rail map.
“The new services mark a major milestone in Virgin Trains’ ambitious plans to transform services on its East Coast route, which also includes £140 million investment to deliver an improved service and more personalised customer experience.
“Business customers have been calling for more early-morning departures that will give them a longer day in the capital and we’re delighted to be delivering on our promise by launching these extra services.
“We’re also responding to demand in Leeds, with an extra return service which will be great for leisure travellers and those families wishing to head to London in the run-up to Christmas.”