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New train services planned between London and North Wales

Simon Calder’s Travel

The Hollywood owners of Wrexham FC will be celebrating today after a new train service between London and North Wales has been proposed.

Train and rail infrastructure supplier Alstom said its planned operation will offer passengers new direct links, quicker journeys and “more competitive fares”.

Services are proposed to run between London Euston and Wrexham up to five times per day in each direction from next year.

They would call at Milton Keynes, Nuneaton, Coleshill Parkway, Walsall, Darlaston, Wolverhampton, Telford Central, Shrewsbury and Gobowen.

Avanti West Coast is to withdraw its current daily return service between London Euston and Shrewsbury in June.

It has been 13 years since train company Wrexham & Shropshire – which operated between London Marylebone and Wrexham via Shrewsbury – ceased trading due to mounting losses.

An Avanti West Coast train

(PA Wire)

Alstom’s proposed new operation is named Wrexham, Shropshire and Midlands Railway (WSMR), and is being developed in partnership with consultancy SLC Rail.

An application to run services will be submitted to the regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on Thursday.

WSMR would operate on an open access basis, meaning it would receive no taxpayer-funded subsidies and take on all revenue risk.

Rail minister Hew Merriman said: “These exciting proposals could see better connections for communities across North Wales and the Midlands, including direct services to London from Shrewsbury, Telford and Wrexham.

“Competition delivers choice for passengers and drives up standards, which is why we continue to work with industry to help make the most of open access rail.”

Most train operators in England are paid a management fee, with the UK government holding responsibility for costs and revenue.

ScotRail and Transport for Wales Rail are under public ownership.

Alstom is the largest private rail operator in North America but if its WSMR plans get the go ahead it will be the first time it has run services in the UK.

The company’s managing director in the UK and Ireland, Nick Crossfield, said: “As the country’s leading supplier of rolling stock and train services, it makes perfect sense that we now move into operating our own fleet to serve passengers directly.

“Having been part of the fabric of UK rail for two centuries, we’re excited to enter this new era as an open…

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