The announcement that a direct rail route between Shropshire and London is to be restarted next year is very welcome but there is more to be done to ensure we receive an adequate service.
Virgin Trains have come to an agreement with the Office of the Rail Regulator to start providing direct services between Shropshire and London and will announce the timetables today but the service is an off-peak service, running only Monday to Friday with a single train on Sunday.
The proposed direct rail link between the county and the capital has been rejected twice because of concerns over capacity but there is a simple solution. Much of the rail traffic between Shropshire and Birmingham is part of the two-train journey to London. Virgin could replace some of the Arriva trains that shuttle between North Wales and Birmingham New Street, clogging up the line for what is half a journey for many passengers. This is, of course, a simplistic view because it will have a knock-on effect on other routes but where’s there’s a will there’s a way. We don’t need so many trains terminating at Birmingham New Street, turning around and doing the return journey to North Wales if passengers are able to travel direct to London.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see how Virgin are going to make money out of this rail route when they won’t have commuters or Saturday tourist traffic. Hopefully Virgin will persevere and work with the Department of Transport and the ORR to provide a full service in the near future.