by Phil Marsh

Approval granted for re-introduction of direct services between Blackpool, Shrewsbury and London

Published: 27th September 2014

Or has the Government ‘successfully’ negotiated train paths with itself…?

West Coast Main Line (WCML) train operator, Virgin Trains has been given Regulatory Authority to commence direct train services between Shrewsbury, Blackpool and London from December. The plans have been approved by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) following negotiations with Network Rail, Virgin and other operators.

These services were in all the WCML franchise bids for the franchise that was initially awarded to First group but after legal challenge, remained with Virgin.

But not just yet…

The Shrewsbury services will commence on 14th December 2014 and are claimed to be part of a range of service improvements on the WCML route that coincide with the award of Virgin Trains’ extended franchise. The reality is that these train paths have been subject to political pressure by the DfT, Network Rail (NR) and Virgin and it must be remembered that NR is now a Government department as is the DfT. The latter awarded Virgin another franchise extension detailing the extra services which re-instate trains that ran up to a few years ago.

New trains for old?

So it could be argued that they are not new services but ones that have been re-instated due to political pressure and will coincidentally commence just months before the General Election.

The trains will not be all new as they will be existing services extended from Wolverhampton and Preston respectively. Shrewsbury gains a pair of trains each way on weekdays at 0639am and 3.24pm. These arrive at Euston at 9.15am and 5.56pm calling at Telford, Wellington then Wolverhampton in the morning. The return workings departs Euston at 1023am and 6.23pm arriving in Shrewsbury at 1258pm and 8:55pm respectively.

Blackpool North regains its direct service to London from January 15 with one train a day in each direction on weekdays departing at 525am calling at Kirkham & Wesham, Poulton le Flyde and Preston arriving at Euston at 8.34am. The train returns from Euston at 4.33pm taking just under three hours to reach Blackpool.

They said:

“It’s an exciting time for everyone involved with Virgin Trains,” explained Lead Executive Phil Whittingham. “With our extended franchise we are able to get back to doing what we do best, offering new journey opportunities whilst still delivering the same high standards of service to our customers.

“We have worked hard with our industry partners to gain the approval for these new services. Special thanks must go to the ORR, Network Rail and the Department for Transport. We thank them all for this big vote of confidence.”

“We couldn’t be more pleased and are really looking forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure they are a success and become a permanent fixture of the railway timetable.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Direct trains between London and Blackpool and Shrewsbury will be a valuable addition to the services which already connect both towns to the rest of the rail network. They will provide greater business and leisure opportunities and will support and develop local economic growth as a result of improved access to the capital.

“We have worked closely with Virgin Trains, the ORR and the wider industry to make this possible to help meet the demands of passengers and will continue to do so ahead of the first services being introduced in December 2014.”

External Links

Liverpool street station in the UK at rush hour

Help and advice with train travel in the UK

Train travel in the UK should be a pleasure, not a headache. So if you’re taking a train on the UK railway, start your journey here. We’ve lots of hints, tips and advice to help you find your way around, travel smoothly and arrive in style by train.

Read more

eurostars passing at 375mph from the drivers seat in france


Welcome to our #railchat page. Our #railchat discussions take place over on Twitter, with our resident expert Phil Marsh. If you would like to get involved, please do join us, and use the dedicated hashtag #railchat. See our previous discussions below:

Read more

Old steam train in Shanty Town Museum

Locomotives & Engines

Our rail network would be nothing without them. From Stephenson's Rocket to British Rail Class 92 and beyond, explore the facts, information and anecdotes behind the steam, diesel and electric locomotives that built the age of the train.

Read more


Latest Tweets


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh to London Kings Cross by Train

Book in advance with and save 85% advanced bookings.

From £21.00

Buy now

Millenium Dome, London

Birmingham New Street to London Euston by Train

Book in advance with and save 92% on advance bookings.

From £6

Buy now

You may also like...



Follow us on Twitter and become part of our rail community! is the easy way to buy cheap train tickets online.



Control your business fuel costs with a supermarket fuel card – free to apply, no ongoing account charges and no monthly minimum spend.