A lesson in usage of apostrophes

Pupils should consider the following two headlines and consider which one is more likely to be correct:

  1. “Pendolinos are no longer Virgin’s!”
  2. “Pendolinos are no longer Virgins!”

Pupils should also consider which of these two sets of facts would apply to each of the headlines above:


The Virgin Rail Group has lost the West Coast Franchise, marking the end of a long, hard and largely successful era for the London and North Western Railway.


Scientists have persuaded the Pendolino fleet to breed, destroying the world train building industry in one fell swoop and replacing it with train maternity wards, a new income stream for narrow-gauge railways as nursery grounds for baby trains learning how to follow the rails and questions over job protection, pensionable ages and how many votes an 11-car train is entitled to (and in which of the seven marginal constituencies through which its line passes).

Pupils may also wish to discuss the moral and legal implications of these sets of facts. More advanced pupils can be invited to consider if and in what circumstances announcement of headline 2 could be considered a breach of the Pendolinos’ right to privacy.

The distinctive drooping front end of a Class 390 Pendolino carries its original Virgin branding out of London Euston.

(A fuller obituary to Virgin Trains may follow in due course.)


3 thoughts on “A lesson in usage of apostrophes

  1. gawainsmum August 16, 2012 / 08:52

    But are Virgin Trains dead, or will they get the Great Western Franchise?
    How do you feel about working for the company (about to be) running the London North Western route — the rival company to your great-grandfather’s employer, the North Eastern Railway? Irony there, I feel.

    • thegawain August 16, 2012 / 17:50

      Virgin’s current (public) view is that they have put in 6 franchise bids (two each for West Coast, East Coast and Cross Country) at a cost of up to £14million per throw and have only won two.

      With three or four bidders per franchise contest this is actually a reasonable average, but since it’s booted them out of UK rail they don’t envisage bidding again. Branson is only really interested in Intercity franchises (he’s not stupid, commuter rail does nothing for any brand) and by the end of the new West Coast franchise only East Coast will really be what he’s after. He’s not after GW. The Ford explanation is that there are too many commuter trains and rural branchlines in with the Intercity work. He probably doesn’t want the Government dropping a pre-specified fleet of trains on him either.

      Betting is now that First will lose Great Western, so the family issue will be on for about 8 months (December to July). Hold nose.

  2. gawainsmum August 16, 2012 / 08:54

    PS It’s definitely a breach of Pendolinos’ right to privacy.

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