Latest Rail News

08.05.12

‘I want’ never gets?

Civic leaders will always call for more investment in their local rail services, and faster, more frequent, less overcrowded trains – it’s populist, good for business, and they’re neither paying for it nor designing the timetable.

Many of us have our own ideas on better service configurations, timetabling and diagramming, though usually from a perspective focused more on the passenger and less on the business case. We also know that the economics of the franchise system are ferociously complex, with far more central Government involvement than the general public realise.

Shropshire politicians and business people are of course entitled to press for direct services to London– but there was a reason that Wrexham & Shropshire proved unsustainable, despite its very impressive passenger satisfaction scores. The passenger numbers simply weren’t there. Maybe faster trains would attract more people, and the Shropshire proposal is for Chester-London services calling at Gobowen, Shrewsbury and Telford, then onto Euston, rather than via the slower line via Banbury into Marylebone as in the Wrexham & Shropshire days.

Virgin Trains, the current franchise holder, cannot discuss its bid but has said it has had “good discussions” with people from the county keen to see direct services to London reinstated. The local MP says it had been “actively considering” including such services in its bid. If successful, it will be a good example of local campaigning on economic development and tourism influencing a train operator’s decision, over pure financial calculations. But is anyone holding their breath?

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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