Virgin Trains have been given and extension by the Department of Transport to run trains on the West Coast Main Line until March 2018. I suspect a great relief to Richard Branson after the tendering process debacle with FirstGroup back in 2012.
However the tracks may not be that clear for them as they may well face reed competition from Germany’s state railway company of Deutsche Bahn.
The German rail operator has moved closer to launching rival train services on Britain’s West Coast Main Line, between London and Manchester then beyond.
Great North Western Railway Company (GNWR) is part of Arriva, which is owned by Germany’s Deutsche Bahn and they have been trying to operate services on this route to the North West of the UK for some time.
Still needing approval from the British rail regulator but it is hoped it can start services from early in 2017, and then routes to Manchester and Huddersfield the year after.
Virgin Trains now currently holds the Government contract to run West Coast Main Line services but they do not go to places like Blackpool or Huddersfield. If DB get the go ahead then passengers travelling from London to Manchester or Preston would then have a choice of two operators if approved.
Ian Yeowart, managing director of GNWR, said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph: “It has taken a significant amount of work since our initial application in 2011 to get to this point where Network Rail has agreed to the sale of access rights.”
Virgin Trains have said that they welcome competition. They already run 32 trains a day in both directions between London and Preston with 48 between Manchester and London.
Having used myself both Virgin and Deutsche Bahn trains I have to say that this will be great s for the travelling public to have this competition on that route. If only both of these companies would look at providing some competition on the services that I currently use, that of South West Trains!
For instance Virgin were asked to improve their WiFi services under this latest licence to ‘superfast’ which at least they do have a WiFi service on their trains! However going back to South West Trains they have none. Where have the regulators been for the last few years regarding that for customers in the South West?
Catering and general services on Deutsche Bahn and Virgin trains from my experience has been more than acceptable so with greater competition its sure to rise even more on the North West routes.
Here again in the South West it’s a very different story on one main route into London catering only appears on a nearly three hour train journey to the capital one hour after the train has departed from its first station! On the return journey it leaves passengers bereft of catering for the last hour of the trip, hardly customer care is it?
I have to say it’s such great s for those train travellers in the North West. If DB bring their ICE trains over the channel then customers are in for a treat. I have travelled at 251kph (155mph) on them but I don’t think that you will be flashing past Crewe Junction at those speeds just yet!