Wrexham to London rail link launch
Daily Post: Feb 21 2008
by Eryl Crump,
WREXHAM is set to join Virgin Trains network later this year.
Company bosses confirmed plans to run a weekday service from the town to London Euston from December if the West Coast mainline upgrade is completed.
The Virgin service – via Chester – will be in direct competition with Wrexham & Shropshire Railway’s (WSMR) services from Wrexham to London Marylebone.
Both services are targeted at Wrexham’s growing business community.
Chief executive Chris Gibb said the Virgin Trains service will leave Wrexham about 7am. The return journey will leave London at 6.10pm. Journey time will be around two-and-a half-hours.
He said: “The service would be operated by modified Super Voyager trains, with a first-class service which is comparable to that provided on our Pendolino trains.
“The Wrexham trains will run at 125mph with tilt operational over the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and London.”
Mr Gibb added the service is being introduced on a trial basis, and more services on weekdays and weekends have not been ruled out.
WSMR, a joint venture between the shareholders of Renaissance Trains Ltd and Deutsche Bahn Regio, plan to run five services from Wrexham to London each weekday with the trains taking about three and a half hours.
Fares for both services have not yet been announced. Plans to introduce the through service have been welcomed by Wrexham MP Ian Lucas.
He said: “From no direct service at the beginning of 2008, Wrexham will have two separate direct rail links by the end of the year, a tremendous vote of confidence in Wrexham.”
Virgin to run Wrexham to London train service
Wrexham Evening Leader:20 February 2008
THE announcement of a second direct Wrexham-London rail service has been hailed "a tremendous vote of confidence" in the town.
Wrexham MP Ian Lucas said Virgin Trains planned to start a direct Wrexham-London rail service from December this year.
Speaking in the House of Commons at the first meeting of the All Party Group for Rail in Wales, Chris Gibb, Virgin's chief operating officer, announced a return service would operate once a day – outward in the early morning and returning early evening.
The service is targeted at Wrexham's growing business community.
Virgin Trains communications manager Philippa Richardson told the Leader: "Monday to Friday, there will be a train departing Wrexham at 7am, with a return journey leaving London at 6.10pm.
"The journey time will be two-and-a-half hours. It will be introduced on a trial basis initially, but more serv
ices on weekdays and weekends have not been ruled out if the trial is successful."
Mr Lucas, who was present at the meeting, was delighted at the news.
"From no direct service at the beginning of 2008, Wrexham will have two separate direct rail links by the end of the year," he said. "This is a tremendous vote of confidence in Wrexham".
The Virgin service, via Chester, will compete with rival company Wrexham and Shropshire's through services between Wrexham, Shropshire, the Black Country and London Marylebone this spring.
They will be running five trains a day on weekdays, four on Saturdays and three on Sundays.
Wrexham Council leader Cllr Aled Roberts said: "This obviously shows the growth of Wrexham as a major business centre for north east Wales.
The council will continue to work closely with all railway operators to continue to improve railway services for Wrexham."
Rail rivals battle for Wrexham inter-city custom
Transport Briefing: 20/02/08
Transport connections with Wrexham in north Wales are set to improve significantly as train operators attempt to mine a possible untapped seam of demand for better rail links with London.
Open access train operator Wrexham, Shropshire & Marylebone Railway (WSMR) is due to launch a London to Marylebone to Wrexham rail service (pictured) this spring, restoring direct train services to and from the capital that were severed in 1992 - although direct services briefly operated a few years later.
However, with only weeks to go until the planned launch, Virgin Trains has announced that it will extend a daily London Euston to Chester service to Wrexham, providing a second direct link between the capital and north Wales.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Rail in Wales Parliamentary Group, held at the House of Commons, Virgin Trains chief operating officer Chris Gibb said a Wrexham-London Euston service would run from December 2008, subject to the completion of West Coast route modernisation work.
The Virgin Trains service will run on Mondays-Fridays with a departure around 0700 from Wrexham and a return journey leaving London at 1810. Journey times between Wrexham and London will be around two-and-a half-hours, significantly faster than WSMR's planned journey times of just over four hours.
The Virgin service is being introduced on a trial basis and the company says if it proves successful more services on weekdays and weekends have not been ruled out. WSMR has paths to run five weekday services in each direction with four in each direction on Saturdays and three on Sundays.
Chris Gibb said: "The service would be operated by modified Super Voyager trains, with a first class service which is comparable to that provided on our Pendolino trains. The Wrexham trains will run at 125mph with tilt operational over the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and London."
The operation of this through train has been made possible through the allocation of a fleet of diesel Super Voyager trains to Virgin Trains, which will be used on the new hourly London to Chester Service.
In his previous role as managing director Virgin Cross Country Trains, Chris Gibb wrote to the Office of Rail Regulation in April 2007 opposing WSMR’s application to run trains between Wrexham and London, citing performance issues. Summarising the company’s position he concluded: “Virgin Cross Country Trains does not therefore offer its consent to the operation of the proposed services and as such, objects to WSMR's application on the basis that, for those rights being applied for, are likely to cause undue performance risk to Virgin Cross Country services, as a direct result of limited capacity constraints...in particular at Birmingham New Street."
The Cross Country franchise has since been taken over by Arriva (Transport Briefing 12/11/07). WSMR is a joint venture between Renaissance Trains and Deutsche Bahn Regio, formerly Laing Rail.