HS2

01.11.18

Virgin Trains abandons Friday afternoon peak restrictions to reduce mass overcrowding

Virgin Trains has scrapped Friday afternoon peak-hour restrictions after the company found it reduced congestion on key services during a 13-week trial.

It said restrictions on train travel leaving London after 15:00 and before 18:45 will be removed permanently from 2 November.

The train operator runs services on the West Coast Main Line, connecting London Euston, Birmingham, Manchester, Chester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Premium ticket prices often mean passengers on off-peak services are forced to stand for hours, with an anytime return from Manchester to Euston costing £338 while an off-peak return is £86.90.

Peak services, on the other hand, are often left relatively empty compared to the first departures eligible to off-peak ticket holders.

Virgin said they are “enabling thousands of people to start the weekend earlier for less,” but restrictions on peak tickets on the other four-week days will still remain.

Virgin Trains says it trialled the system during the summer and found that it “helped dramatically reduce congestion on key evening services,” with the average maximum number of passengers falling by 61% on the Euston to Manchester service at 19:00.

It said that more than 3,500 additional journeys were made each Friday as visitors “flocked to the major cities” such as Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow for a weekend break, on top of the reduction in congestion throughout the day.

Sarah Copley, the commercial director at Virgin Trains, said: “Rather than everyone waiting for the first off-peak train on Friday evening, people can now travel whenever’s convenient for them.”

“This change means we’ve been able to reduce congestion, whilst helping people save money and make an earlier start to their weekends.”

The first off-peak journey on a Friday for every major service leaving Euston saw a reduction in the average loading at the busiest point of the journey.

The 19:03 from Euston to Birmingham saw the biggest reduction of 75%, and both Euston to Preston and Euston to Liverpool also seeing over a 50% reduction.

Image credit - oversnap

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