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Direct Shropshire to London rail link rejected

Telford | News | Published:

Network Rail today dramatically turned down Virgin's plans to introduce a long-awaited direct rail link between Shropshire and London.

Richard Branson's company had been planning to bring in the service from December. It would have seen two trains running each way between Shrewsbury and London every day, stopping at Wellington and Telford and passing through Stafford.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "Today there are twice as many trains using the West Coast Main Line as a decade ago and, just like a busy motorway during rush hour, more trains mean that if something goes wrong, the knock-on effects can be significant.

"We have acknowledged that performance on the West Coast line is not good enough and we are taking steps to improve performance on the route. However, adding more services onto what is already the busiest mixed use railway line in the UK mean would mean a trade off with punctuality. It would have a significant negative impact on performance for the thousands of other passenger and freight services that rely on this route every day."

Virgin said it would appeal the decision to the Office of Rail Regulation.

The current plans were the latest proposals for a direct rail link between the county and the capital following the fiasco over the West Coast franchise.

Virgin Trains had lost out for the franchise to FirstGroup, who announced their own plans for the direct rail link between Shropshire and London.

But the deal was abandoned, resulting in Virgin and the DfT reaching a deal to run the franchise on an interim basis until November 2014.

The new West Coast franchise will not start until April 2017.

What does this mean for Shropshire? Have your say in the comments below.

For more details and reaction, see tonight's Last edition

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