The train known as the workhouse of the railway network could soon be given a new lease of life in the war-ravaged Balkan region.
After decommissioning the Mark Three model on its London-Glasgow west coast main line in favour of the tilting Pendolino train, Virgin is set to drive a fleet across Europe to Sarajevo.
The 160 old British railway coaches are currently stored near Carlisle, Stratford and Teesside at a cost of more than £1,000 per coach per year and would cost about £2,500 each to have them dismantled and recycled.
If negotiations are successful, the deal, worth under £10 million would allow Bosnian railways to use the trains from Sarajevo to domestic destinations such as Banja Luka and to neighbouring Croatia and Serbia.
While the dismantling process would be a costly one, reusing the trains has gained widespread applause.
Modern Railways Magazine technical editor Roger Ford said: “They’re the best coaches ever built in Britain. If I was to have an accident on a train, I’d rather it be on a Mark Three than on anything else.”
Porterbrook procurement manager Alex Wood said: “Bosnia is desperately short of trains following the conflict which ripped apart the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995.
“Quite a lot of their rolling stock got destroyed and they have a lot of trains sitting there which are beyond repair.”
The Mark Three trains once formed the bulk of Britain’s long-distance fleet and are still used by operators including Great Western. Those transported to Bosnia will probably still carry the distinctive red Virgin seats.