škoda 2024

West Coast target for Virgin Trains return to rail

posted on 29th May 2024 19:04

Virgin has submitted an application to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for four Open Access rail paths, for Preston/Rochdale via Manchester, Liverpool Lime Street, Birmingham New Street, and Glasgow Central. A spokesperson for the Virgin Group said: “Whilst this application is just the first step towards exploring what might be possible, we think Open Access is the way forward. Open Access increases consumer choice and competition both of which Virgin has always supported.”

Virgin Rail Group operated the InterCity West Coast franchise for 20 years up until 2019, covering long distance passenger services on the West Coast Main Line between London up to Scotland. The Virgin Group spokesperson added: “Virgin is exceptionally proud of everything Virgin Trains and its wonderful onboard teams achieved in the UK. In the 20 years Virgin Trains operated on the West Coast, they reduced journey times considerably, tripled services on key routes and provided an exceptional customer experience while increasing passenger numbers from 8 million to 42 million per year. We’re confident customers would welcome Virgin Trains back, providing them with much-needed choice and competition.”

The news comes days after FirstGroup announced that it plans to launch a new rail service between Rochdale and London, expanding its open access operations as part of its successful Lumo business. The company said the move would enable passengers to travel directly between the two destinations for the first time in nearly 25 years. The leading private sector transport operator has submitted the first phase of an application for the new open access train service to the ORR.

In March Alstom announced plans to operate a new passenger rail service across England and Wales. Working in partnership with consultancy SLC Rail, the open access operation will be known as Wrexham, Shropshire and Midlands Railway (WSMR).