County MPs to meet rail boss on city link

Shropshire’s MPs will put on a united front when they take the campaign for a direct rail link from the county to London to the Government next week.

Virgin train

The five county MPs will meet Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin next Wednesday after Network Rail blocked government-backed plans to introduce the link from December.

Virgin had hoped to run the service but Network Rail blocked the proposal earlier this month due to the “knock-on effect” it could have to other services on the West Coast Main Line.

Conservatives Owen Paterson, Mark Pritchard, Daniel Kawczynski and Philip Dunne will be joined by Labour’s David Wright to present the county’s case.

Mr Pritchard, Wrekin MP, said: “I am glad that transport ministers are as upset as Shropshire’s MPs, residents, and businesses, following Network Rail’s attempts to block this vital direct rail service.

“I will be calling on the Transport Secretary to get Network Rail to overturn its decision as soon as possible.”

Mr Wright, MP for Telford, said: “We will be pressing the cause for a direct link and ensuring the transport secretary is well aware of how important it is for Telford and the wider Shropshire area.”

Mr Dunne, Ludlow MP, said he would be “seeking the transport secretary’s advice on how best to secure capacity for a London to Shropshire direct link”.

Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Mr Kawczynski and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson were unavailable for comment today.

But previously Mr Kawczynski has tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on Network Rail to reverse its decision, while Mr Paterson has said he hoped it would only be a delay and not the end of the issue.

Meanwhile, lobby group Campaign for Rail, based in the West Midlands, warned that if the row was not resolved in the next few weeks then Shropshire rail passengers would continue to have no direct rail service to the capital for the foreseeable future.

And it said Mr McLoughlin must intervene if the two companies cannot come to an agreement, adding that both should be focusing on the interests of rail users.

The service would have seen two trains running each way between Shrewsbury and London every day, stopping at Wellington and Telford, and passing through Stafford.

Don Barton, chairman of Campaign for Rail, said: “Shropshire is the only county in England without a direct rail link to London. It is not a rural backwater, it is a major tourist destination and, of course, there is a need to encourage new businesses and industries to locate in the county.”

Virgin is to appeal Network Rail’s decision.

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Comments for: "County MPs to meet rail boss on city link"

Rocketron

In regard to a direct rail link to the capital; everyone advocating re-introduction of this service needs to take a pause to think a little more deeply into the idea. Britain is not in the pre- Beeching era, and the implication of that fact; is that fifty years ago, some parts of a viable rail network were scrapped, in the full knowledge, that due to redevelopment and the capital cost of re-instatement, these routes would be gone forever. Those that advocated closure may have had family financial interest in motorway construction and possibly road haulage, of course, and if this had been the case, it would be very difficult to substantiate today. Interestingly, the proposed service route would run through Stafford and possibly not Birmingham, which seems to indicate that this is where the network is throttled due to overloaded track facility. I feel sure there are contractual and legal implications that need to be considered regarding the eventual TOC, and Network Rail, and this is a negative implication of privatisation, however, the salient question still remains to be answered by all parties advocating re-instatement, and that is : would there be sufficient passenger / volume usage to make the trains viable financially without a large subsidy.If hindsight had been foresight, the Wolverhampton LL, Snow Hill to Paddington/ Marylebone service would still run.

Roger

I am concerned that our MP's are putting their efforts and concerns behind what appears to be dead duck. Without the interchange of passengers at Wolverhampton and Birmingham there will not be sufficient passengers to support the service from Shrewsbury to Stafford.

On the other hand by linking Arriva and Chiltern Services there can be a viable service deliverable in time for the new time tables in December. Any delay in switching our option to the achievable now will delay things beyond the cut off point for time table changes and put off the possibility for twelve months.

The loss of Wolverhampton Low Level to Birmingham Snow Hill has frustrated this service and linking Wolverhampton High Level and Snow Hill does not look practical. Possible but expensive. Paddington would be better than Marylebone because it connects to Crossrail. The major obstacle to doing what is required is that whatever we do will cross franchise boundaries which demonstrates that the franchise system has some gross disadvantages by restricting new services which could ease the pressure on the West Coast Main Line and that will carry on into the future. Such needs as access to Heathrow without having to go to London and change are possible but restricted by franchise limitations. A new approach to the design and development of the railway network and services to match the network to the customer’s requirements, many of which could have been achieved using the lines closed by Beeching.

We seem to micro managing problems instead of standing back and looking at the broader picture of how to manage the network of the future and moving in the right directions. HS2 will provide relief and improved services to the major conservations but do nothing to improve infrastructure to the general population of rural counties to evolve alongside the cities.

arthur.blurton@ntlworld.com

Should Wolverhampton Low Level Be Re-Built & Should All The Politicians In Shropshire Look At This As An Issue Or A Matter If They Cannot Get Their Rail Service To London Back At All & Would Re-Building Wolverhampton & The Black Country Closed Railway Lines Also Solve Some Of The Problems & Should Chester & Blackpool Be The Destination For Electric Trains With Wrexham Via Shrewsbury & Telford Via Gobowen & Chirk & To Blackpool Via Frodsham & Runcorn East & Helsby & Warrington & Would Electric Trains To Manchester Piccadilly Via Knutsford & To Liverpool Lime Street Via Crewe Or Chester & Frodsham Also Bring More Benefits Running Via Cannock & Walsall & Stafford If It Was Possible!!