Posted 26th January 2011 | 17 Comments

Wrexham & Shropshire closes down

THE open-access operator Wrexham & Shropshire is to cease operating.

The chairman of the associated franchised operator Chiltern Railways Adrian Shooter has confirmed that trains will be withdrawn between London, Shrewsbury and Wrexham at the end of this week.

The company, which is owned by Deutsche Bahn and Renaissance Trains, began running services between London and north Wales in April 2008, but had been trimming its timetables, reducing the number of daily services from five to four, and then most recently to three.

The end of the operation will mean the loss of through services to London not only from north Wales but also from Shropshire.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Matt, Birmingham, UK

    With the greatest of respect,Wrexham is not the centre of the World. It's a small town surrounded by rural and semi-rural settlements. The Shrewbury to Birmingham line is well served by frequent reliable trains to Birmingham. Once at Birmingham, London trains run every 20 minutes and average 1h 25mins. Overall, this situation is probably optimal in terms of journey time anyway - even if W&S was an option. It's only the section from Shrewbury to Wrexham that will suffer and with this being so thin in terms of population it is really no wonder W&S decided to cut the service - in fact I am surprised it ever started and wonder how/why it did - is there more to this exercise? It simply can's be justified to run an entire train to and from London several times a day for the sake of the Shrewbury to Wrexham line - it's not exactly the UK's commercial hub, or anywhere near that and there's only so far leisure travellers on £10 jollies can provide for revenue-stream.
    A stop in Birmingham could have saved W&S, but only because W&S would effectively have 'stolen' the London Midland/Arriva passengers on Shrewbury - Birmingham and Chiltern/Virgin passengers from Birmingham - London. Bearing in mind these TOCs have budgeted and planned around expected passenger numbers (and investment figures/franchise costs) based on these, that would have been unfair - particularly as they provide a very frequent service on both lines.
    I suspect the only reason the trains were so clean and the staff were so warm and firendly is probably because of a dire lack of passengers to make the mess and the staff were likely to have been grateful to any passenger using the service. Sorry, it's just economics and this didn't add up. Until Wrexham doubles its population and a stop in Birmingham is allowed, I fear it will always be that way.

  • David Morris, Wrexham

    I feel that I must pass a few comments in light of what has been said so far. Unless I am mistaken DB is the parent company for W,S and M, Arriva, Chiltern, Cross Contry etc and probably others. The loss of W.Sand M will no doubt have a lasting effect not only on the passenger but also on the local businesses who supplied the food and drink etc. The general problem to me and my family as regular travellers to and from London is that now we can not just get on in Wrexham and get off in London. We are tied to as it used to be. Pick a route and be prepared to get what is thrown at you. Please do not argue about price if you are a Leisure traveller for there are available by the various other operators many cheap fares - if you look for them - typical - next Monday my wife has to go to Amersham - used to be W&S to Marylebone 10 or 15 and 7.50 from Marylebone to Amersham. Instead it will be a single to Birmingham then a 5.00 ticket from Snow Hill. Price does not come into it - what does - is the quality of the trip. Business people would have loved to be able to have had quicker travel times to and from London but that was not possible because the other Rail Companies bleated about the new company picking up their business and using their stations and running on their tracks and despite the fact they were subsidised they still whinged.

  • jack99, swindon, UK

    A great shame that W & S being a proper railway company with brilliant ex BR Mk111 coaches with proper legroom ( unlike the First Group HST Bus Seats ( love for the First Group Chairman to travel 5 hours London - Penzance in one of his Deep Vein Thrombosis inducing Standard carriages - worse than Ryan Air ), excellent catering etc has had to close despite the Wanderlust route from Wrexham to Marylebone ( the old GWR Birkenhead - Paddington successor.) together with battling the Government subsidised Virgin route ( restrictions at Wolverhampton, kept out of Birmingham New St ) etc

    As W & S were backed by Deusche Bundesbahn ( DB ) who have deep pockets and could sustain the route until the economy improves may I suggest that the real reason the route shut was that Chiltern Railways ( also owned by DB ) needed the rolling stock and Class 67s for the new Birmingham Moor St - London Marylebone express service starting in May 2011?

    Does any DB Insider know any different ??

    Either way a great shame as the route made Shropshire accessible - Maybe ATW or CR will reintroduce the Cambrian Coast Express ?
    This train could split at Shrewsbury with portions proceeding to Wrexham , Aberystwyth and Pwllhelli ?

  • Brian, Preston, UK

    Wrexham & Shropshire loss £2.8m, competitors a subsidy £1.7m of funding per annum for the Gerallt Cymro Holyhead to Cardiff service Welsh Assembly data 2010, in 2008 / 2009 Arriva Trains Wales/Trenau Arriva Cymru Ltd received a subsidy of £114.6 m as published by the Office of Rail Regulation, National Rail Trends March 2010. The other competitor Virgin Trains, jointly owned by the Sir Richard and Mr Souter’s Stagecoach rail firm, is being paid £250 million this year and next as part of a £1.3 billion subsidy to help them pay track access fees to Network Rail TSSA press release June 2010. Yet Wrexham & Shropshire who had not one penny of public money in subsidy during its time and was prevented from accessing extra passengers and revenue by the Regulator is allowed to go to the wall. Some questions for AM’s and MP’s there about the non to level playing field for ‘Open Access’ Rail Providors.

  • Richard Murch, Hampton, United Kingdom

    Will really miss this small friendly service. Fantastic fares from £10 maybe just a bit too cheap. The spec of the MK3 coaches made them them the best on the network.but its the staff i feel so sorry for,its going to be tough to find jobs in an area with high unemployment. Good luck to you all

  • Claydon William, Norwich, Norfolk

    What is ridiculous about this; from a service provision standpoint; is that Chiltern have off-peak trains lying idle in London and elsewhere, and could easily start/finish some peak services in Shrews/ Wrexham off the back of their Moor Street services.

    I suspect wily old fox Adrian Shooter is trying to get some of these journeys aded to the Chiltern franchise through political pressure, and funded by the public purse rather than through open-access.

    In any case the revenue streams of W&SMR would likely make the operation profitable if run by a Class 168 rather than a leased class 67 and MkIII's.

    Or perhaps some of these Welsh services could be adopted by 'Arriva'..

    If only there were some kind of ownership link between Chiltern and Arriva.....?????.........

  • Chris, London, UK

    Having used the service on a number of occasions I have in general found it to be excellent, although the quality of catering in recent months appeared to have deteriorated, at least on the weekend trips I took, to nothing more than plated ready meals.

    What I angers me is the manner of the withdrawal of the service at such short notice, ignoring rail industry standards to adhere to a 12-week booking horizon for services (and then clearly operating them) - W&S have previously modified their permanent timetables at very short notice to customers, causing disruption to those who have pre-booked and those who planned to use a re-timed or cancelled departure. It is all very well arranging for other operators to carry W&S customers after Friday, but this is of little value if the W&S service provided a critical connection in a customer's itinerary. If these had been local bus services the operator would have had to give 56 days notice to the Traffic Commissioner of their intention to cancel or amend their timetable - perhaps it is time the same protection be afforded the customers of Open Access rail operators.

  • Rob, Telford, UK

    They were crippled by not being able to make a stop in Birmingham, daft really considering their parent company is the same as Chiltern's

  • John M, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

    A sad day indeed....with the loss of the direct train service from Wrexham to Marylebone. I used the service on several occasions - mostly catching the train from Wellington (my local station), to visit trade shows held in London. To go by cars not feasible on cost, time, and fatigue. So for me it will back to the often overcrowded and dirty Arriva trains, and the better condition London Midlands trains to Birmingham and catch Virgin trains to Euston....not ideal, more costly, and always the possibility to miss my connection at Birmingham New Street.

    W&S was an excellent service, great staff, clean and comfortable carriages.....a sad day!

  • Barrie Hughes, Wellingborough, UK

    I hope the fact that DB/Chiltern want the locos and MkIII coaches for their own exanding services to Birmingham and Oxford did not feature in the move to kill W&SR. Why won\'t the Welsh Assembly subsidise this important route as they do the North Wales-Cardiff service? The loss of services from Wrexham gives an even more pressing reason to redouble Wrexham-Chester and divert the extra Holyhead-Cardiff via Wrexham.

  • H Harvey, Birmingham

    Ruined by the stupid perverse competitive railway where francising means protecting from competition. It was this same 'free enterprise' system that killed off the North of London - European services before they even began,

    McNulty KNOWS what will go a long way to cutting the cost of the railway and at the same time bring expansion and improvment to services but no doubt will not admit or say so other than his statement regarding duplication (multiplication would be more descriptive) of none frontline costs.

    Growth in passenger numbers is always claimed by the Privatise Lobby as a result of the franchise system when the truth is more likely to be as a result of a shift in public attitudes to the railway on the back of which the 'virtual bus companies' made god profits with little or no capital input.
    For example Chiltern railways are held up as a 'typical' example of privatisation. Good as they maybe the truth is a little different. They claim they invested in project Evergreen in fact Chiltern 'rents' it from Network Rail. They also had other infrastructure that was relatively new as did all of the 'good' performing franchises with of them 'renting' nearly all of their rolling stock.
    he same is true.

    Some good has come from franchising but much claimed is not all due to them though the privatised system can certainly be the cause of the increase cost of the railway.

  • T Price, Nottingham, United Kingdom

    I would advise any rail staff who are toying with the idea of moving to an open access operator from the relative safety of a franchised TOC, to think very carefully before you do so. It happened with Advenza, it happened with Jarvis, and now it's happened again. Many of the former staff of those companies are still looking for work now.
    Wishing all the best for the future to the W+S staff who tried so hard.

  • Yasmin Shah, Bexhill, UK

    Really sad to see this lovely service discontinue. This was a trainline where the atmosphere was warm, friendly and efficient. Wish more train lines and industries in the service sector were similar in these areas. Yasmin, East Sussex

  • Sid, NEWPORT, United Kingdom

    To me this service rated excelent. I will now have to travel from stafford for adirect service on either London Midland or Virgin who just do not compare with the service from Telford

  • Jane Fanner, Kirtlington, UK

    Very VERY sorry to hear this dreadful news. Quite simply this was one of the best-run railway services in the UK and as far as I am concerned one of the few to treat their customers with respect, continuously going that extra mile to make us feel that a journey on the railways of Britain is something to be enjoyed instead of endured.I shall miss the wonderful attentive staff, the superb breakfast and most of all the wonderful and spacious seats with tables and windows. Can't tell you how cross I am that it's back to the indifferent service and the dreadful airline seats of the other companies, with passengers crammed together. This is such a pity..I wish the staff my very best wishes for their future. Thank you every one of you for showing us how rail travel can be a pleasure .Jane Fanner

  • Rob, West Yorkshire

    Very sad. I'm sure that with some work, some Arriva Trains Wales and Chiltern servicess could have been combined under WSMR.

    I hope that this is just a one-off and that other OA operators don't go the same way. Also hope that any potential new starters are not put off.

  • Graham, Telfoord, UK

    What a sad loss of a valuable service.there may have been some faults in terms of marketing and over generous pricing but the service was needed