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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

London Northwestern Railway proposes new Manchester to London service

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Proposals to run new train services between Manchester, the West Midlands and London Euston have been unveiled by rail operator London Northwestern Railway today (Monday 1 July).

The plans are designed to improve connectivity between the Midlands and the North West and provide more choice for passengers. Under the proposals, London Northwestern Railway’s existing services between London Euston and Crewe would be extended through to Manchester Victoria and the current services between Stafford and Crewe would be extended to Manchester Airport.

As well as bringing additional capacity to Manchester, the plans will create new direct links from Rugeley, Lichfield, Tamworth and Atherstone in the West Midlands to the city and Warrington, from summer 2026.

The services linking Manchester city centre to London would use the operator’s brand-new Class 730 electric trains, which are manufactured in the Midlands by Alstom and will provide a significant increase in capacity, with each 10-car train able to carry more than 1,200 passengers. The proposal will see London Northwestern Railway working with local operators and Network Rail to determine the best overall solution, tying in with planned upgrades to Manchester Victoria station, the TransPennine route upgrade and other local improvements in the North West.

Ian McConnell, managing director of West Midlands Trains, operator of London Northwestern Railway, said: “This proposal puts passengers at the heart of the railway and is the common sense solution to increase connectivity between the North West and the West Midlands following the cancellation of the northern leg of HS2.

“With platform space at Euston at a premium, the best way to provide new journey opportunities to Manchester is simply to extend existing services, rather than trying to squeeze more trains onto the congested West Coast Main Line.

“Additionally, unlike the Open Access model, the millions of pounds of extra revenue our proposals would generate will be returned to the taxpayer, providing a win-win for rail passengers.

“Just as we have shown with our existing long-distance services to Birmingham and Liverpool, our green and environmentally-friendly new electric trains will provide an affordable alternative to the car and coach, with fares up to 50% cheaper than the main intercity operator.”

Dominic Booth, chief executive officer of WMT’s parent company, Transport UK Group, added: “Our new service proposals represent a significant step forward in enhancing the rail network between Manchester and London.

“By leveraging the new Class 730 electric trains, we will provide greater capacity and comfort for customers travelling to Manchester while also supporting the local economy by creating new job opportunities in the North West. This proposal aligns with our commitment to delivering efficient, sustainable, and customer-focused rail services across the UK.”

In addition to the economic benefits of generating additional revenue and enhancing connectivity between two of the UK’s largest city regions, the new services would also create new train crew and management jobs in the North West.

London Northwestern Railway will formally submit its plans to the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) later this year. If approved, the new services could commence from May 2026 once additional train crew have been recruited and trained.

Image credit: West Midlands Trains

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