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More trains on crowded InterCity West Coast may be delayed until after HS2

Stakeholders are being invited to submit their views on the InterCity West Coast franchise in order to shape requirements for future bidders.

The consultation, aimed at groups including passengers, employees, communities, businesses and railway industry groups, includes suggestions on how to reduce overcrowding on the franchise.

Passenger journeys on InterCity West Coast have grown by 20% in 2010-15, but the consultation warns that chances to reduce overcrowding on West Coast trains by introducing more or longer trains will be limited until HS2 is built.

It therefore suggests alternatives including changing the stations trains stop at, reducing the availability of first-class seats or encouraging passengers to travel at quieter times through smart ticketing schemes.

James MacColl, head of campaigns at Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The demand for rail is greater now that it has been for nearly a hundred years and rising fast. The future InterCity West Coast franchise will need to enable the growing number of passengers to use the trains while also solving the overcrowding problem. So the Government must use the tendering process to set tough targets for bidders to increase the line's capacity.”

He added that the franchise must also tackle overcrowding by including plans to integrate with HS2.

Other issues respondents are asked to give feedback on include how they want the new operator to improve passenger experience, handle planned disruptions caused by building HS2, support communities and the environment and improve accessibility.

The successful bidder will be announced in November 2017 and will take over services after Virgin’s contract expires in April 2018.

Virgin West Coast has suffered delays recently, with the latest figures showing its PPM declining from 86.1% to 83.3%.

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: “We are investing a record £38bn in our railways to deliver better journeys for passengers, and it is essential that passengers’ needs are at the heart of franchises in order to build on this investment.”

The DfT is also holding 11 public consultation events in May and June at stations including Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street and Birmingham New Street.

The consultation is open until 2 August. To take part, click here.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here.


Andrew Gwilt   17/05/2016 at 21:11

The WCML is always as busy with passenger trains and freight trains using the WCML. No wonder Northern England wants HS2 to be built and even HS3.

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