Virgin Trains and the West Coast mainline

The West Coast mainline
The West Coast mainline

In February, Virgin Trains welcomed more than 30 representatives of small and medium-sized businesses from across the UK on board one of its trains for a complimentary journey from Birmingham International to London Euston to highlight the company’s commitment to supporting SMEs.

On the train, participants took part in expert advisory sessions covering a range of topics including access to finance and international growth, whilst having the opportunity to meet many other business owners.

Business Secretary Vince Cable welcomed the train, which was decked out in Business is GREAT livery for the occasion, at London Euston where he chatted with the guests.

Dr Cable said: “The UK is recognised as Europe’s leading entrepreneurial nation and the Government is backing small firms as part of our industrial strategy to create jobs and grow the economy. Large companies also have a vital role to play in offering support and sharing their experiences with smaller companies wanting to grow.

“Over two million new businesses have launched since 2010 and I want to encourage all would-be entrepreneurs to visit the GREAT Business website and benefit from the wealth of advice and support that’s out there. I look forward to seeing more inspirational small businesses develop their dreams into a reality.”

The event marked the beginning of Virgin Trains’ partnership with Business is GREAT, a campaign that aims to celebrate and inspire small businesses, and provides relevant advice and information for those looking to grow, hire, export and access finance.

Acknowledging that many SMEs face challenges getting ahead in business, Virgin Trains is pledging to support them both as suppliers and as customers. To this end, Virgin Trains has announced partnerships with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and Funding Circle, an online marketplace which can help businesses access fast and simple finance.

James Meekings, co-founder of Funding Circle, said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy so it’s fantastic to partner with Virgin Trains who also passionately believe in helping business owners get ahead. Investors have now lent over £530 million to 8,000 businesses through our marketplace, helping to create an estimated 24,000 jobs across the country.”

Further to this, Virgin Trains is the first train operator to make The Access Pledge, developed by Business in the Community (BITC). Through the pledge, organisations like Virgin Trains are working to level the playing field for SMEs to act as our supply chain.

Phil Cavender, route director at Virgin Trains, said: “Virgin Trains puts local communities and passengers at the heart of what we do. We are fully committed to supporting small businesses in the UK by creating bespoke offers designed to enable their travel across the Virgin Trains Network, facilitating face to face meetings which are vital in securing deals and maintaining business relationships.

“In addition to this initiative, Virgin Trains supports other projects, including pop up shops at our stations, to help showcase businesses in the communities we serve and the importance of SMEs to the UK economy.”

In tomorrow’s instalment of the Business Travel series, we look at…