24 Oct 2021

All aboard the Christmas Train!

Virgin trains1 LFR

On 1st December 2015, hundreds of heads were turned at King’s Cross Station as Virgin Trains unveiled its two Christmas trains sporting striking blue liveries in place of the famous Virgin red. A Pendolino transformed into a Penguilino and a Class 91 made over as Claus 91 appeared side by side for the first time at London’s iconic station.

The unveiling marked the end of a nationwide competition amongst primary school children for a Christmas Train design. Joint winners, nine year old Amber Maxfield and 11 year old Madeleine Deakin, were there to see their festive drawings come to life.

The competition attracted hundreds of entries and was run in partnership with the Book Trust. The judging panel, which was headed by Jill Murphy, author of the popular Worst Witch and The Large Family series, were so impressed by the entries that two winners were chosen.

Jill Murphy said: ‘‘I am honoured to have been part of this exciting project. We received so many wonderful entries and Madeleine and Amber’s designs stood out as fun designs with a real Christmas feel to them.’’

Madeleine from Copdock in Suffolk said: “I’m so happy to have won and it was incredible to see my drawing on the train – it’s made me even more excited about Christmas!” and Amber from Carlisle added “When I found out I’d won I just couldn’t believe it! Seeing my drawing on a train and coming to London is a dream come true.”

Now two trains, one on the West Coast (Penguilino) and one on the East Coast (Claus 91), boast the childrens’ very different designs but share the same midnight blue sky backdrop. Each Christmas train bears the name of its young designer.

Patrick McCall, Chairman of Virgin Trains, said: ‘‘We loved the concepts that these two young designers came up with and are proud to have their ideas transform two trains. It’s fantastic that both the East Coast and West Coast services have come together to make our customers’ journeys throughout December extra special - especially on their way home for Christmas.’’

Diana Gerald, Book Trust chief executive, said: “This project has been a great opportunity to inspire children to use their imaginations and we were really impressed with the quality of entries. We received everything from family party scenes to our most beloved Christmas characters.’’

The Christmas trains will run on the Virgin Trains network throughout December and carry passengers travelling over the festive period.

[Photos show (above) the two winning Christmas Trains side-by-side and (below) Christmas Train design joint winner Madeleine Deakin with her Class 91 Virgin Train]

Virgin trains2 LFR