London Northwestern Railway Class 730 at Crewe (Photo Tony Miles)

UK: West Midlands Trains has announced plans to extend its existing West Coast Main Line services to offer a Manchester – London route.

Managing Director Ian McConnell said this would be a ‘common sense solution to increase connectivity between the northwest and the West Midlands following the cancellation of the northern leg of HS2’.

On July 1 WMT said it plans to submit a formal application to regulator the Office for Rail & Road later this year, with a view to launching the services from May 2026.

Its existing London Northwestern Railway-branded services between London Euston and Crewe would be extended to Manchester Victoria, and services between Stafford and Crewe would be extended to Manchester Airport.

LNW said this would provide additional capacity and direct links from Rugeley, Lichfield, Tamworth and Atherstone to Manchester and Warrington.

The Manchester to London services would use its Alstom Class 730 electric multiple-units, with a 10-car train able to carry more than 1 200 passengers.

McConnell said ’with platform space at Euston at a premium, the best way to provide new journey opportunities to Manchester is simply to extend existing services, rather than trying to squeeze more trains onto the congested West Coast Main Line’.

Virgin and FirstGroup announced in May that they had applied to launch open access services on the Manchester to London corridor.

McConnell said ‘unlike the open access model, the millions of pounds of extra revenue our proposals would generate will be returned to the taxpayer, providing a win-win for rail passengers’.

WMT operates stopping services on the West Coast Main Line, calling at intermediate stations while also offering an alternative to Avanti West Coast’s inter-city trains.

‘Just as we have shown with our existing long-distance services to Birmingham and Liverpool, our green and environmentally-friendly new electric trains will provide an affordable alternative to the car and coach, with fares up to 50% cheaper than the main inter-city operator’, said McConnell.