Posted: Thu 14th Mar 2024

Train manufacturer announces ambitious plans to run 5 a day service between Wrexham and London

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

A leading train manufacturer has announced ambitious plans to launch a new passenger rail service to connect Wrexham directly to London.

Alstom’s proposed new operation is named Wrexham, Shropshire and Midlands Railway (WSMR), and is being developed in partnership with consultancy SLC Rail.

The proposal envisages a service of five trains per day between Wrexham and London Euston Monday to Saturday, with four travelling both ways on Sundays.

Trains will stop at Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Telford Central, Wolverhampton, Darlaston, Walsall, Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes on their journey between Wrexham General and London Euston.

It promises a faster, more affordable, and more comfortable journey for passengers, effectively bypassing the need to change trains in Birmingham.

The proposed service seeks to utilise a lesser-used freight route, thereby opening up new connections from Shropshire to Warwickshire and avoiding the congestion typically associated with travelling through Birmingham.

The move not only promises to shorten travel times but also to enhance the overall travel experience for passengers journeying between these regions and the capital.

Set to begin in May 2025, Alstom plans to apply today to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to run five trains a day on an “open-access” basis.

This model operates independently of the major train operating contracts set by the Department for Transport, allowing for more flexibility and potentially more competitive pricing structures.

It is expected the new operation will create around 50 new jobs, with roles mostly based in North Wales and the Midlands.

Rail Minister Huw Merriman has hailed the initiative as “exciting proposals,” underlining the importance of competition in delivering choice and improved standards for passengers.

The move comes on the heels of the ORR’s approval of a similar open-access service by Grand Union Trains, indicating a growing trend towards more diversified rail services across the UK.

The new Wrexham-London service aims to fill a gap left by the upcoming discontinuation of the single daily direct service currently run by Avanti.

Nick Crossfield, managing director director UK and Ireland at Alstom, said: “As the country’s leading supplier of rolling stock and train services, it makes perfect sense that we now move into operating our own fleet to serve passengers directly.

“Alstom is also committed to embedding sustainability into every element of our organisation, and WSMR will help drive a modal shift from road to rail by offering a greener alternative for travellers across England and Wales.”

Alstom’s decision to route its services via the west coast mainline to Euston, rather than using the Marylebone terminus as its predecessor did, is a strategic one.

The new route is expected to be significantly faster, offering an appealing alternative to passengers prioritising journey time.

Furthermore, the company is looking to attract a broader customer base by serving stations not accessed by previous services.

Ian Walters, managing director at Midlands-based SLC Rail, said: “From the Welsh borders to the Midlands, our routes will forge new connections, linking overlooked regions of England and Wales with direct services to and from London.

“Passengers will benefit from more competitive fares and new technology to simplify ticket purchasing for our new services. Delighting the customer will be at the forefront of what we do; we want WSMR passengers to experience a new excellence in customer service onboard our intercity trains.”

He added: “Our proposal will support sustainable housing growth, nurture communities, and unite business, leisure, and commerce along the corridor. This will enhance economies and bring a positive impact to both communities and the environment – and we can’t wait to get started!”

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