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Shropshire-London rail link: West Coast rail line space may be found

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

The possibility of freeing up capacity on the West Coast Main Line is being investigated as part of efforts to reinstate a direct rail link between Shropshire and London as soon as possible.

The option was discussed on Monday by Richard Price, chief executive of the Office of Rail Regulation, and Shropshire MPs Owen Paterson and Daniel Kawczynski.

The idea would see some stops taken out from existing routes on the West Coast Main Line to allow it to handle the additional trains between Shropshire and London.

Virgin Trains is hoping to start running services on the route from May next year.

It is working on a bid after an intended Christmas start for the service was vetoed by Network Rail and the ORR earlier this year on the grounds that the West Coast Main Line route is too busy and that problems with services on that line needed to be tackled before any direct link could be considered.

But Virgin believes £40 million improvements on the route, scheduled to be completed by March next year, will allow the objections to be dropped.

Mr Kawczynski said: "We discussed a number of options we can now pursue to bring the service about as quickly as possible.

"These included pressing Virgin on a number of technical issues surrounding the extension of services that currently run to Wolverhampton and Birmingham, with the second including freeing up capacity on the line by taking out stops from current routes."

The MP said he also raised the issue of electrifying the Shrewsbury line as soon as possible.

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