Direct London rail route abandoned

Virgin Trains have postponed the launch of their direct rail connection to London because it isn’t viable.

Virgin had only been able to secure a once a day off-peak service because the Department of Transport and Office of Rail Regulation decided that there wasn’t enough capacity on the line. It was pretty clear from the outset that it would be nigh on impossible to make the service viable without commuters and Virgin have come to the same conclusion.

We suggested back in November that some of the trains that terminate at New Street could be sacrificed to free up the schedules for through trains to London. New Street is just an inconvenient transfer for a great many passengers who are using the train to get to London. Some commercial discussions would need to take place to negotiate changes to the existing franchise but a longer, more profitable direct rail connection to London is a big bargaining chip.

Key to the future of rail travel in Shropshire, though, is electrification of the rails through the county which will allow train companies to use faster trains and increase line capacity. If just a fraction of the £50bn (and rising) cost of HS2 was spent on upgrading existing lines far more people would benefit.

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