Aggora speeds ahead with £2.5m Virgin refresh

Aggora Group is playing its part in transforming the catering service aboard Virgin trains after taking on a giant £2.5m catering equipment refurbishment contract.

The Redditch-based outfit is managing the renewal of equipment and refurbishment of the shop, bar, and kitchen areas on all 56 Pendolino trains that Virgin operates.

Aggora is working closely with rail developer Alstom, which last year secured the overall contract to carry out the fleet modernisation project.

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Aggora will be supplying the heavy catering equipment until the programme is completed, which is due in May 2014.

All existing catering equipment is being replaced on the fleet alongside strategic modifications to the kitchen lay-out to facilitate cleaning.

The kitchen design, which was developed by the Aggora team alongside Alstom and Virgin, is intended to offer improved service to passengers, while making it easier to clean and to recycle waste.

The project required all of the equipment to be fully rail compliant and ‘tractionised’, including shock and vibration testing, in order to replicate 30 years’ worth of rail use including crash events.

The equipment list selected for the roll-out includes items from Retigo, Bravilor, Electrolux, Falcon, Hatco and Panasonic, along with some bespoke hot holding facilities.

Ross Emery, sales director at Aggora, says the project is one of the most comprehensive it has ever undertaken.

“The level of detail associated with this tender from the outset has been staggering, but will stand us in good stead for similar future ventures,” he said. “The development of new and modified catering products and tracking these to suit the railway environment has been a true feat of partnership between the various manufacturers, Aggora Group and Alstom.”

The product development and new technology that formed a significant part of the tender and specification process included some major design breakthroughs and adaptations, according to Emery.

The Bravilor coffee machines have been adapted to advertise Virgin’s range of drinks and display brand specific messages during drink preparation, while other key pieces of equipment have been modified to continue to function when the trains passes through neutral sections of the track in order to enhance the Virgin customer experience and not delay service.

“We were able to meet all of Virgin Trains’ requirements for this project and help develop these to offer a truly tailored solution,” added Emery.

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