Virgin Trains, whose West Coast mainline franchise expires on 7 December 2019, is signing out in style with a 90s-themed music video that celebrates more than two decades of service on the line.
Branson, Virgin Trains staff and a host of stars from the 90s – including Mr Blobby, Chris Kamara, Shaun Williamson (Barry from EastEnders) and drag icon Anna Phylactic – take viewers on one final journey from 1997 to 2019, singing the iconic Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes song (I’ve Had) The Time of my Life, from the film Dirty Dancing.
Social media agency Cubaka came up with the creative and managed the execution, and Studio Yes produced it.
Virgin Trains has taken customers on about 500 million trips since it began its service in 1997, nearly trebling in annual passengers over the years. First Trenitalia takes over services on the route on 8 December.
"Virgin Trains has led the UK rail industry for over 20 years, delivering faster journeys, ground-breaking innovation and award-winning customer service," Branson said.
"Our 3,500 people are at the heart of the business and are the stars of this video, which celebrates the amazing work they have done to become the top-rated franchise in the UK today. We've had the time of our life serving our customers and wanted to celebrate the fun we have had with them since 1997."
Over the years Virgin Trains achieved industry-leading customer satisfaction scores, introduced a fleet of tilting Pendolino trains and was one of the first to repay customers for delays and make digital tickets available for all fare types.
It has also run some memorable campaigns, including the award-winning work by The Romans that painted the script to It's a Wonderful Life on platforms to show how powerful simple acts of kindness can be, particularly around Christmas.
Virgin Trains MD Phil Whittingham said: "Of course we're extremely sad that Virgin Trains is disappearing as a train operator, but we wanted to leave as we entered: by having fun. We're immensely proud of our track record over more than two decades and hope our customers enjoyed travelling with us as much as we enjoyed serving them."
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