Posted 16th January 2014 | 6 Comments

Virgin's Shrewsbury plans delayed again

EFFORTS to introduce a through service of Virgin Trains between London and Shrewsbury in May have been abandoned, after it became clear that the only paths which Network Rail could make available would not be attractive to passengers.

Virgin wants to restore direct London services to both Shrewsbury and Blackpool, but so far discussions with Network Rail have foundered because the West Coast Main Line is so congested.

The proposal included running trains from London to Stafford rather than via Birmingham, and then reversing to join the Shrewsbury line just outside Wolverhampton.

Virgin is not giving up, and said it is still aiming to bring its trains to Shrewsbury at the next timetable change in December.

Reader Comments:

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

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    David C Smith, I don't think the Chiltern Line has that much spare capacity, but, as I understand it, that's not the sticking point. The sticking point is the track capacity passing through Birmingham. I believe the situation is currently so bad that even passing through an extra few trains per day is a huge problem, which is why Virgin went for the strange roundabout route via Stafford. And even if a way was found of improving track capacity, chances are the slots would go to local services where there's growing crowding problems.

    (The Stafford reversal route was indeed chosen by Virgin because of congestion in the West Midlands.--Editor.)

  • david c smith, milton keynes

    Yes, there probably is no spare capacity on WCML for London -Shrewesbury ( and beyond ), However, since the demise of the Wrexham, Shrewesbury and Matylebone operation, the Chiltern main line has been upgraded to 100mph capability, so any London - Shrewesbury trains could use this line with little extra time taken compared to the WCML.

    The Chiltern main line must have ample spare capacity, judging from its ability to take an extra 2 Virgin Voyager trains per hour in each direction at times when the WCML has beeb blockaded for engineering work.

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    "Great for everyone this burocratic and complex privtatised railway that responds quickly and efficiently to customer demand,"

    Not sure how you're blaming this one on privatisation. There simply isn't the space to run the extra trains on the line, and that is the case regardless of who runs the railways.

    Implying you could have done this under good old BR is like say BR could have run trains to the Moon.

  • Philip Russell, Carlisle

    Great for everyone this burocratic and complex privtatised railway that responds quickly and efficiently to customer demand, it was certainly worth the £billions more than BR cost ,I think not

  • Tim, Devon

    Time to get started on HS2, pronto

  • Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

    Two quick questions:

    1) How quickly/feasibly could we electrify Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury?

    2) Could we substitute a couple of Pendolinos to Birmingham with either diesels or hybrids from IEP which would then continue on the unelectrified bit?