Wrexham & Shropshire

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Wrexham & Shropshire
Wrexhamandshropshire toc logo.svg
A First Refurbished Train Launch.JPG
Overview
Franchise(s): Open access operator
Not subject to franchising
28 April 2008 – 28 January 2011
Main route(s): Wrexham - Shrewsbury - Wellington - Tame Bridge - London Marylebone
Other route(s): None
Fleet size:

5 Class 67 Locomotives
16 Mark 3 Carriages

5 Driving Van Trailers
Stations called at: 12 (Also called at Wembley Stadium during events)
National Rail abbreviation: WS
Parent company: Arriva/Renaissance Trains/
John Laing plc
Web site: www.wrexhamandshropshire.co.uk
Geographical representation of the Wrexham & Shropshire route
Wrexham & Shropshire route map
Wrexham General
Ruabon
Chirk
Gobowen
Shrewsbury
Wellington
Telford Central
Cosford
Wolverhampton
Tame Bridge Parkway
Leamington Spa
Banbury
Wembley Stadium- events only
London Marylebone London Underground

Wrexham & Shropshire[1] was an Open Access Operator in the United Kingdom operating passenger rail services between Wrexham General and London Marylebone from April 2008 until January 2011.

History[edit]

Wrexham & Shropshire was formed in October 2006 as a joint venture between John Laing plc and Renaissance Trains with the aim of operating rail passenger services between Wrexham and London Marylebone as an Open Access Operator.[2] The last direct railway service from the area to London had been a Shrewsbury to London Euston service operated by Virgin Trains in 1998/99.[3]

In October 2006 an evaluation service ran from London Marylebone to Wrexham General via the proposed route using the EWS Company Train.[4][5]

In March 2007 Wrexham & Shropshire lodged an application with the Office of Rail Regulation for track access rights to operate services.[6] In September 2007 Wrexham & Shropshire were granted access rights from December 2007 for a seven-year period.[7][8]

In January 2008 John Laing's rail operations, including its shareholding in Wrexham & Shropshire, were sold to Deutsche Bahn.[9][10] After this transcation the shareholders in Wrexham & Shropshire were DB Regio (50%), Renaissance Trains (36%) and John Laing (14%).[11]

Operations commenced on 28 April 2008.[12][13]

Services[edit]

Route[edit]

From Wrexham General services ran via Ruabon, Chirk, Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Wellington, Telford Central, Cosford and Wolverhampton to Tame Bridge Parkway. From here services would proceed to Banbury and London Marylebone either via Stechford, Birmingham International and Coventry, or via Birmingham New Street and Solihull.[14]

Because of a Moderation of Competition clause inserted into Virgin Trains' Track Access Contract with Network Rail by the government, Wrexham & Shropshire were not able to service a number of West Coast Main Line stations from London. Wrexham & Shropshire's Track Access Contract did not allow it to call at Birmingham New Street or Coventry, although the contract did allow it to could call at Wolverhampton and Birmingham International to pick up only on northbound services and set down only on southbound services, although Wrexham & Shropshire elected not to serve the latter.[8]

Likewise to protect Chiltern Railways from revenue abstraction (even though it was owned by DB Regio), northbound services could only pick up and southbound services set down at Banbury. From December 2009 the Banbury restrictions were lifted and services also called at Leamington Spa.[14] The Leamington Spa stops were removed in May 2010[15] after the Department for Transport found that revenue had been abstracted from Chiltern Railways.[16][17]

Diversionary routes[edit]

During weekend engineering works, Wrexham & Shropshire services were frequently diverted. When the Wrexham - Shrewsbury line was closed services operated from Wrexham General to Shrewsbury via Chester and Crewe. When the Shrewsbury - Wolverhampton line was closed services reversed at Shrewsbury before reversing again at Crewe and proceeding via Stafford to Wolverhampton. When the line south of Birmingham was closed, services operated via the West Coast Main Line, Willesden Junction, Acton Junction and Ealing Broadway to South Ruislip before reversing to reach Marylebone. When the South Ruislip - Marylebone line was closed services would be diverted to London Paddington.[18]

Timetable[edit]

Wrexham & Shropshire's initial timetable was for five trains per weekday between Wrexham and London with a journey time of approximately 4 hours, 15 minutes.[19]

In March 2009 the weekday service was reduced to four trains per day with one cut back to only operate from London to Shrewsbury,[20] Wrexham & Shropshire citing the economic downturn for the cancelled services.[21] From July until September 2010 a fourth Saturday service was operated. In December 2010 the weekday service was reduced further to three per day, with insufficient customer demand being cited as the reason.[22]

Performance[edit]

In the Spring 2010 National Passenger Survey by Passenger Focus, the independent rail watchdog, Wrexham & Shropshire scored a 99% satisfaction rating - the highest rating in the survey's history.[23]

Performance figures released by the Office for Rail Regulation rated Wrexham and Shropshire at 88.1% PPM for the second quarter of the 2010-11 financial year.[24]

Rival service[edit]

In February 2008 Virgin Trains announced that it would operate a direct service between Wrexham General and Euston on a trial basis from December 2008, with a morning southbound and evening northbound service.[25][26] Virgin's service operated from Wrexham General via Chester and Crewe to London Euston along the West Coast Main Line using Class 221 Super Voyagers, with a journey time of approximately 2½ hours, compared with Wrexham & Shropshire's average of 4 hours. As this was an extension of a Chester - Euston service, it did not serve stations in Shropshire or the West Midlands.

Threat of withdrawal of service[edit]

Arriva Trains Wales lodged an application with the Office of Rail Regulation to operate two daily trains from Aberystwyth to London Marylebone. The application was rejected in February 2010 because the Office of Rail Regulation was concerned about the financial viability of the service.[27] DB Regio had stated that if the application was successful that it would cease funding Wrexham & Shropshire and operations would cease.[28][29][30]

Rolling stock[edit]

Wrexham & Shropshire Driving Van Trailer at London Marylebone
Driving Van Trailer trailing a set of Cargo-D Mark 3s

Wrexham & Shropshire's original plans had envisaged using Class 158 or Class 170 diesel multiple units, but a lack of available stock saw the locomotive hauled option adopted.[6]

Services were operated by a DB Schenker Class 67, Mark 3 carriages and a Driving Van Trailer. To operate the service, DB Regio purchased a fleet of ex Virgin West Coast Mark 3s and Driving Van Trailers and put them through a refurbishment programme at Marcroft Engineering, Stoke-on-Trent. A dedicated fleet of four Class 67s were repainted in Wrexham & Shropshire livery ready for the launch in April 2008 followed by a fifth in April 2009.

When services commenced, none of the carriages were ready so Mark 3s were hired from Cargo-D and operated in top and tail with a Class 67 at each end. The Driving Van Trailers entered service in October 2008, but it would be September 2009 before the first Mark 3s were ready. Originally the four sets consisted of three Mark 3s, this was later increased to four from May 2009 although these were not refurbished internally.

Chiltern Railways Class 168s were cleared to operate on Wrexham & Shropshire's route and reached Shrewsbury on at least one occasion.

With the reduction in service levels from December 2010, a Mark 3 set was hired to Chiltern Railways to operate a Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone peak-hour service.[31]

Refurbishment gallery[edit]

Fleet[edit]

Class Image Type Top speed Route operated Built
mph km/h
Class 67 Wrexham and Shropshire 67012 Marylebone TT1.jpg Diesel locomotive 125 200 Wrexham - London Marylebone 1999–2000
Mark 3 Carriage N Mark IIIA TSO 12127.JPG Passenger rolling stock 110 177 Wrexham - London Marylebone 1975–1986
A First Refurbished Train Launch.JPG Driving Van Trailer 110 177 Wrexham - London Marylebone 1988

Depots[edit]

The Mark 3 sets were based at Chiltern Railway's Aylesbury depot. They were also stabled at Wembley depot and in the bay platforms at the south end of Wrexham General that were reactivated.

Proposed merger with Chiltern Railways[edit]

Wrexham & Shropshire Driving Van Trailer in Chiltern Railways livery at Shrewsbury

In September 2009 Wrexham & Shropshire announced that from the beginning of 2010, it hoped to transfer operation of the Wrexham & Shropshire branded services to fellow DB Regio subsidiary Chiltern Railways.[32] In light of the problems encountered with Wrexham & Shropshire abstracting revenue from Chiltern Railways, the Department for Transport did not sanction the merger.[16][33]

Welsh Assembly funding[edit]

In October 2006 the Welsh Assembly announced that Wrexham & Shropshire did not qualify for employment grants which it had intended to use to improve the facilities at Wrexham General railway station in order to turn it into the company's operational centre. This led to speculation that, if the funding could not be found, the company might have to move to Shrewsbury, which would affect the number of services it could run to/from Wrexham.[34] However, in November 2006 the Welsh Assembly announced that the Wrexham & Shropshire was eligible for the grant and, as a result, a site survey at Wrexham General was undertaken. The depot would be open to all train-operating companies.[35]

Demise[edit]

On 28 January 2011 operations ceased after a review concluded there was no prospect of the business ever being profitable.[36][37][38] The last train was the 18:30 from London Marylebone to Wrexham General.

The trains operated by Wrexham and Shropshire has since been transferred to sister companies Arriva Trains Wales and Chiltern Railways.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 5970112 Wrexham Shropshire & Marylebone Railway Company Limited
  2. ^ Presentation to Shropshire County Rail Forum Shropshire Council 13 October 2006
  3. ^ Pride of Shrewsbury The Encyclopedia of Modern Traction Names
  4. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 551 25 October 2006 Page 17
  5. ^ New rail company plans direct Wrexham link with London Daily Post' (North Wales) 13 October 2006
  6. ^ a b Application to the Office of Rail Regulation a Passenger Track Access Contract Office of Rail Regulation 5 March 2007
  7. ^ "ORR announces decision on additional services between London and Wrexham" (Press release). Office of Rail Regulation. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007. 
  8. ^ a b Track Access Contract between Network Rail Infrastructure Limited and Wrexham Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company Limited Office of Rail Regulation 10 September 2007
  9. ^ "Deutsche Bahn announces acquisition of Laing Rail" (Press release). Chiltern Railways. 21 January 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  10. ^ Deutsche Bahn buys Laing Rail Construction News 21 January 2008
  11. ^ Wrexham Shropshire & Marylebone Railway Limited Annual Accounts 31 December 2010 Page 21
  12. ^ New direct rail services launches this April Wrexham & Shropshire press release 2 April 2008
  13. ^ Clinnick, Richard (7 May 2008). "40 years on – Wrexham and Shropshire takes to the rails". Rail (Peterborough) 591: 6–7. 
  14. ^ a b Wrexham & Shropshire timetable 13 December 2009
  15. ^ Sixteenth Supplemental Agreement to the Track Access Agreement Network Rail 2 December 2010
  16. ^ a b Notice Imposing a Penalty Pursuant to Section 57A of the Railways Act 1993 Department for Transport 16 June 2011
  17. ^ Chiltern Railways fined for breaking franchise agreement Birmingham Post 16 June 2011
  18. ^ Thirteenth Supplemental Agreement to the Track Access Agreement Network Rail 20 January 2010
  19. ^ Wrexham & Shropshire timetable April 2008 Wrexham & Shropshire
  20. ^ Firms cuts off-peak rail services BBC News 3 March 2009
  21. ^ "WSMR cuts service". Modern Railways (London). April 2009. p. 6. 
  22. ^ "Tracks - Dec 2010/Jan2011". Content.yudu.com. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  23. ^ "National Passenger Survey - Spring 2010". Passenger Focus. 22 June 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2010. 
  24. ^ "National Rail Trends Chapter 2". ORR. 
  25. ^ Crump, Eryl (21 February 2008). "Wrexham to London rail link launch". Daily Post (Liverpool). Retrieved 25 April 2008. Journey time will be around two-and-a half-hours. 
  26. ^ "Wrexham set to join Virgin Trains network" (Press release). Virgin Trains. 20 February 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  27. ^ Arriva Trains Wales Limited 38th Supplemental Agreement Office of Rail Regulation 26 February 2010
  28. ^ The Wrexham Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company Limited Arriva Trains Wales 38th Supplemental Agreement Wrexham & Shropshire letter 19 October 2009
  29. ^ "DB Regio to cease funding WSMR if Arriva runs in to London". Rail (630) (Peterborough). 4 November 2009. 
  30. ^ "Aberystwyth to London direct rail route rejected". BBC News Online (London). 1 March 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  31. ^ Chiltern commence Birmingham loco-hauled Rail Express 14 December 2010
  32. ^ "Wrexham & Shropshire backed by respected rail firm" (Press release). Wrexham & Shropshire. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 28 September 2009. From the New Year ... Network Rail to transfer Wrexham & Shropshire’s track access rights to DB owned Chiltern Railways, ... no changes to the branding of Wrexham & Shropshire ... which will continue to be an open access business unit 
  33. ^ Form 22 Office of Rail Regulation
  34. ^ "Pledge over capital rail link". Shropshire Star (Shrewsbury). 19 October 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2007. [Shrewsbury] could replace Wrexham as the main base for trains on the route after the Welsh Assembly refused funding for the project, meaning stops at Wrexham and Gobowen could be axed. 
  35. ^ "Rail depot may bring London link". BBC News Online (London). 21 November 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2007. A Wrexham to London rail link is a step closer, after the Welsh Assembly Government offered funding for a depot. 
  36. ^ "Wrexham-Shropshire-London direct rail link to end". BBC News Online (London). 26 January 2011. 
  37. ^ Wrexham & Shropshire to cease operations on Friday 28 January Wrexham & Shropshire
  38. ^ Wrexham & Shropshire railway company to cease operating Daily Post (North Wales) 26 January 2011

External links[edit]