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08.05.12

Shropshire demands restored London rail link in WCML franchise

Civic and business leaders in Shropshire are lobbying heavily for a return of direct London services to the county in the next WCML franchise, following the collapse of Wrexham & Shropshire early last year.

Representatives from Shropshire and Telford councils are pressing for a morning and evening train service between London and Chester, stopping at Shrewsbury, Telford and Gobowen, according to the Shropshire Star.

The bidders for the franchise – Virgin Trains, First Group, Abellio and Keolis – are not allowed to give details of potential services, but Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard called the re-establishment of direct rail links to London “vital”.

The franchise winner will be announced in August, and take over operations from December when Virgin’s contract ends.

Shropshire Council leader Keith Barrow said: “We have lobbied each of the potential operators to make the case for a direct link and have made clear just how important it is.”

The successful bidder will get more freedom than before to vary timetables to meet demand on individual days, but it must continue to use Voyagers until 2016, and Pendolinos until 2022.

(Image of Shrewsbury station courtesy PhotoOptik/Christopher, reproduced under a Creative Commons licence. See www.flickr.com/photos/photooptik/with/1235515558/ )

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