Latest Rail News

08.02.13

Virgin submits plans for direct Shrewsbury-London services

Virgin Trains has put forward detailed plans to the DfT for a direct rail link between Shropshire and London.

Campaigners from Shrewsbury and elsewhere in the county have been pushing for a reinstatement of a direct link ever since the Wrexham & Shropshire open access service folded in early 2011. It has been years since Shrewsbury passengers had a direct link to London via the WCML, as Virgin is now planning.

The suggestion is two services each way between Shrewsbury and London daily, stopping at Telford, out at 7.06am and 3.06pm, returning at 11.33am and 6.37pm.

Virgin spokesman Jim Rowe said: “It’s something we want to do, and fairly quickly. We have the franchise contract for another two years, but want to reinstate the services to Shrewsbury before that, and the earliest that could happen is December.”

“It’s our desire to start those services by this December,” he added.

The Shropshire Star reported that Virgin hopes to have a response, as well as the green light for a separate ORR application for track access rights, in the spring.

Richard Sheehan, MD of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, called it “a step in the right direction”, but “far from a complete service”.

Transport minister Simon Burns, talking more broadly about services between mid-Wales and London, said this week: “Virgin Trains has detailed the route between Shrewsbury and the capital and put forward its formal proposals to the DfT. Under the proposals, two trains would run each way between Shrewsbury and London every day, stopping at Telford. This will improve connectivity for passengers travelling from Wales to London.”

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

(Image of Shrewsbury station courtesy PhotoOptik / Christopher, reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.)

Comments

Clive H Price   08/02/2013 at 22:08

Had the late and much lamented Wrexham and Shropshire service been allowed to run through to Chester perhaps it might have avoided withdrawal, so it is a bit rich for Virgin now to be attempting to cream off traffic from Shrewsbury and calling it a Shropshire service. This still leaves Oswestry (Gobowen), Wrexham and intermediate stations between Shrewsbury and Chester without a direct London service. Presumably the intention is to use Super Voyagers, and given the option of travelling in a Class 221 or the beautifully refurbished MkIII's used by Chiltern, in my book it's 'no contest'. But then franchising never was about a joined up railway and customer preference was it?

Bill Potter   12/02/2013 at 08:22

Not much use if it misses out Wellington - the wealthier part of Telford & Wrekin.

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