Virgin Rail lures Eurostar chief

Mark Furlong, Virgin’s project director for Eurostar, has been promoted to commercial director at Virgin Rail, the holding company for Virgin Trains.

Furlong will take on a “broader commercial role”, but his title has not been confirmed. A Virgin Rail spokesman says: “Mark is taking on a wider role and will be working on pricing issues and getting involved in the introduction of new trains.”

The company dismisses speculation that his move will have an impact on the role of Sarah Kehoe, head of marketing for Virgin Trains.

The news follows the announcement this week that Virgin Rail has appointed Chris Green, former Inter- City, Scotrail and Network South East boss, as its new chief executive. He replaces Brian Barrett, who is retiring but will remain as a non-executive director.

In 1997, Virgin was awarded the franchises to operate the CrossCountry and West Coast train lines and announced this week that it had finalised its 1.25bn deal to replace the train fleet on its West Coast line.

In December, Virgin, which operates trains between Manchester, Birmingham and London, appealed to the Commons Transport Select Committee to run regional Eurostar trains from Manchester to Paris. It is now lobbying Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to allow it to run the service and claims it can offer a fare of 69 return from Birmingham to Paris.

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