|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|
|Stations called at||12 (also called at Wembley Stadium during events)|
Wrexham & Shropshire
Wrexham & Shropshire (legally Wrexham, Shropshire & Marylebone Railway Company Limited) was an open access operator that provided passenger rail services in the United Kingdom. Services between Wrexham and London Marylebone operated from April 2008 until January 2011.
The company was founded in early 2006 with the ambition of restoring the discontinued service to London to multiple stations in Shropshire and the Welsh Marches. In October 2006, an evaluation service was run from London Marylebone to Wrexham General to test the route's viability. In March 2007, Wrexham & Shropshire applied for track access rights to operate services with the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR); this application was granted from December 2007, enabling the launch of passenger services on 28 April 2008. While Wrexham & Shropshire had initially planned to operate a small fleet of Class 158 or Class 170 diesel multiple units, it was decided to use locomotive-hauled rakes of Mark 3 carriages, paired with Driving Van Trailers and Class 67 locomotives instead.
Having been established as a joint venture between John Laing and Renaissance Trains, the former sold its rail operations division and its shareholding in Wrexham & Shropshire to the German state railway company Deutsche Bahn in January 2008. In September 2009, DB Regio announced that it had arranged to take complete ownership of the company. DB Region partially aligned the company with another of its subsidiaries, Chiltern Railways, and at one point attempted to merge the two companies together. Financial support for the venture was forthcoming from the Welsh Assembly. New facilities were opened at Wrexham General, while a refurbishment programme of the Mark 3 carriages resulted in higher quality rolling stock being introduced from September 2009.
In 2009, it became clear that the service was attracting a lower than anticipated number of passengers, an outcome that Wrexham & Shropshire attributed to a wider economic downturn. The number of trains operated was decreased from a peak of five per day to three per weekday by December 2010. A rival service launched by Virgin Trains between London and Wrexham via Chester had also been launched in October 2008; other operators also had ambitions to launch direct trains between London and Shrewsbury. During January 2011, it was announced that there was no prospect of the service ever becoming profitable; on 28 January 2011, Wrexham & Shropshire ceased all operations.
Wrexham & Shropshire was established during early 2006 with the aim of operating rail passenger services between Wrexham and London Marylebone.The company was a joint venture between John Laing and Renaissance Trains. Unlike the majority of train operating companies active at that time, this new operator had not been awarded a franchise to run the service, but instead pursued the venture as an open access operator There was no incumbent competition, as direct railway services between the region and London had been withdrawn by InterCity in 1992. While the franchised operator Virgin Trains had opted to launch its own service between Shrewsbury and London Euston in May 1998, the company had decided to withdraw this service during 1999.
In October 2006, an evaluation service ran from London Marylebone to Wrexham General via the proposed route using the EWS Company Train.This evaluation train, formed from a rake of Mark 3 carriages with a British Rail Class 67 locomotive on either end, was determined to be a satisfactory arrangement, and it was announced that a broadly similar arrangement would be pursued for the regular service during December 2006. However, Wrexham & Shropshire's original plans had envisaged using either Class 158 or Class 170 diesel multiple units, but a lack of available rolling stock had compelled the company to adopt the locomotive-hauled arrangement instead. Reportedly, planners had initially identified five potential routes for the service.
During October 2006, the Welsh Assembly announced that Wrexham & Shropshire did not qualify for employment grants which the company had intended to use to improve the facilities at Wrexham General railway station in order to turn it into its operational centre. This outcome led to speculation that, if sufficient funding could not be found, the company might have to relocate its base to Shrewsbury, and that such a move would adversely impact the number of services that would be operated to/from Wrexham as well as other stations.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. Upon its completion, the depot was to be open to all train operating companies.
In March 2007, Wrexham & Shropshire lodged an application with the Office of Rail Regulation for track access rights to operate services.In September 2007, the company was granted access rights from December 2007 for a seven-year period. The timing of this decision meant that Wrexham & Shropshire's original plan to launch passenger services in 2007 had to be postponed into the first part of the following year.
On 28 April 2008, Wrexham & Shropshire commenced scheduled passenger operations.The occasion was hailed by Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones as "a key role in building a more effective rail network for Wales". The launch of Wrexham and Shropshire saw the restoration of regular direct trains between Wrexham and London for the first time in 41 years.
The relatively lengthy journey time, which was partly due to the use of unfavourable train paths, was attributed as a detracting element of the service.Favourable features included the rolling stock itself, which was frequently observed to be of a high standard and relatively luxurious. The firm rapidly established an excellent reputation for customer service, being scored on multiple surveys in the high 90s, including a 99 percent customer satisfaction rating in 2010, the highest of any Britain train operator.
In January 2008, John Laing's rail operations division, which included its shareholding in Wrexham & Shropshire, were sold to the German state railway company Deutsche Bahn.After this transaction, the shareholders in Wrexham & Shropshire were DB Regio (50%), Renaissance Trains (36%) and John Laing (14%). In September 2009, DB Regio announced that it would be taking complete ownership of Wrexham & Shropshire, resulting in its partial alignment with fellow DB-owned UK train operating company Chiltern Railways.
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.In light of the problems encountered with Wrexham & Shropshire abstracting revenue from Chiltern Railways, the Department for Transport did not sanction the merger, effectively preventing it from going ahead.
On 28 January 2011, Wrexham & Shropshire ceased all operations after a review had concluded there was no prospect of the business ever being profitable; it had incurred losses of £2.9 million in 2010 alone. While the decision to terminate its services had been heavily influenced by financial factors, the company was not insolvent and was still able to fulfil all of its financial commitments.The low passenger numbers and lack of profitability were attributed to the Great Recession. Customers who had purchased advanced tickets beyond this date were able to use them on alternative routes using the trains of other companies. The last train that was run by the company was the 18:30 from London Marylebone to Wrexham General.
Following the end of operations, Wrexham & Shropshire's assets were dispersed and typically saw use elsewhere.The majority of the company's former rolling stock was transferred to Chiltern Railways and promptly re-deployed on its core Birmingham-London route. The Class 67 locomotives were returned to general use with their owner DB Schenker. Where possible, Wrexham & Shropshire's staff were found new positions with other train operators.
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.
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. 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 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.
Likewise to protect Chiltern Railways from revenue abstraction (even though both entities were owned by the same parent company, 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.The Leamington Spa stops were removed in May 2010, after the Department for Transport found that revenue had been abstracted from Chiltern Railways.
During weekend engineering works, Wrexham & Shropshire services were frequently diverted. When the Wrexham to Shrewsbury line was closed services operated from Wrexham General to Shrewsbury via Chester and Crewe. When the Shrewsbury to 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 to Marylebone line was closed services would be diverted to London Paddington.
Wrexham & Shropshire's initial timetable was for five trains per weekday between Wrexham and London with a journey time of approximately four hours and 15 minutes.This timetable had been formulated several years prior to the service's launch, largely by planners at John Liang.
In March 2009, the weekday service was reduced to four trains per day with one cut back to only operate from London to Shrewsbury, Wrexham & Shropshire citing the wider economic downturn for the cancelled services.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.
In February 2008, Virgin Trains announced that its intention to operate a direct service between Wrexham General and Euston on a trial basis from December 2008, with a morning southbound and evening northbound service. [ citation needed ]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 two and a half hours, compared with Wrexham & Shropshire's average of four hours. As this was an extension of a Chester - Euston service, it did not serve stations in Shropshire or the West Midlands.
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.DB Regio had stated that if the application was successful that it would cease funding Wrexham & Shropshire and operations would cease.
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 (012-015) were repainted in Wrexham & Shropshire livery in preparation for the service's launch in April 2008, followed by a fifth (010) in April 2009.[ citation needed ]
When services commenced, none of the carriages were ready, thus 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. [ citation needed ]Originally the four sets consisted of three Mark 3s, this was later increased to four from May 2009 although these were not refurbished internally.
Following Wrexham & Shropshire's reduction in service levels from December 2010, a single Mark 3 set was leased to Chiltern Railways to operate a Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone peak-hour service.
|Class||Image||Type||Quantity||Top speed||Route operated||Built|
|67||Loco||5||125||200||Wrexham – London Marylebone||1999–2000|
The Mark 3 sets were based at Chiltern Railways' Aylesbury depot. They were also stabled at Wembley depot and in the bay platforms at the south end of Wrexham General that were reactivated.[ citation needed ]
Marylebone station is a Central London railway terminus and connected London Underground station in the Marylebone area of the City of Westminster. On the National Rail network it is also known as London Marylebone and is the southern terminus of the Chiltern Main Line to Birmingham. An accompanying Underground station is on the Bakerloo line between Edgware Road and Baker Street in Transport for London's fare zone 1.
Chiltern Railways is a British train operating company owned by Arriva UK Trains that has operated the Chiltern Railways franchise since July 1996. It operates commuter/regional rail passenger services from its central London terminus at London Marylebone along the M40 corridor to destinations in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, as well as long-distance services to the West Midlands along two routes. Services on the Chiltern Main Line run from London to Birmingham Snow Hill, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford, with some peak-hour services extended to Kidderminster.
Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) was a British train operating company owned by Arriva UK Trains that operated the Wales & Borders franchise. It ran urban and inter-urban passenger services to all railway stations in Wales, including Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street, Newport, Swansea, Wrexham General and Holyhead, as well as to certain stations in England such as Hereford, Shrewsbury, Chester, Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham New Street.
DB Cargo UK, formerly DB Schenker Rail UK and English, Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS), is a British rail freight company headquartered in Doncaster, England.
A train operating company (TOC) is a business operating passenger trains on the railway system of Great Britain under the collective National Rail brand. TOCs have existed since the privatisation of the network under the Railways Act 1993.
A Driving Van Trailer (DVT) is a purpose-built control car railway vehicle that allows the driver to operate with a locomotive in push-pull formation from the opposite end of a train. Trains operating with a DVT consequently do not need the locomotive to be moved around to the other end of the train at terminal stations. Unlike many other control cars, DVTs resemble locomotives and thus when the train is operating in push mode, it does not appear to be travelling backwards. The vehicles do not have any passenger accommodation due to health and safety rules in place at the time of construction that prohibited passengers in the leading carriages of trains that run faster than 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). Historically, it was believed that a train would be unstable at high speeds unless pulled from the front but extensive testing, and the experience of high speed trains with central power cars such as the British Rail APT and the Eurostar, have altered this view.
The Chiltern Main Line is an inter-urban, regional and commuter railway, part of the British railway system. It links London (Marylebone) and Birmingham, the United Kingdom's two largest cities, by a 112-mile (180 km) route via High Wycombe, Banbury, and Leamington Spa.
The English county of Shropshire has a fairly large railway network, with 19 National Rail stations on various national lines, as well as a small number of heritage and freight lines, including the famous heritage Severn Valley Railway running along its eastern border with Worcestershire.
The Class 67 locomotives are a class of Bo-Bo diesel-electric locomotives which were built for the English Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS) between 1999 and 2000 by Alstom at Meinfesa in Valencia, Spain with drive components from General Motors' Electro-Motive Division.
The Wolverhampton–Shrewsbury line is the railway line from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury via Wellington; it was originally built by the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway. The line is double track throughout, with rarely used relief sidings at Cosford and four tracks through Wellington station.
The Shrewsbury–Chester line, was built in 1846 by the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway. The engineer for the line was Henry Robertson, a partner in locomotive builders Beyer Peacock, while the contractor was Thomas Brassey in partnership with William Mackenzie and Robert Stephenson.
Gobowen railway station is a railway station on the Shrewsbury to Chester Line of the former Great Western Railway's London Paddington to Birkenhead Woodside via Birmingham Snow Hill line, serving the village of Gobowen in Shropshire, England. It is the nearest station to the town of Oswestry.
Wellington railway station serves the town of Wellington, Shropshire, England. It is situated on the former Great Western Railway's London Paddington to Birkenhead via Birmingham Snow Hill line. Trains are operated by West Midlands Railway, Avanti West Coast and Transport for Wales. At its peak, the station hosted six platforms, four through and two bay platforms.
John Laing Group plc is a British investor, developer and operator of privately financed, public sector infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, hospitals and schools through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and Private Finance Initiative (PFI) arrangements. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
Wrexham General railway station is a main line railway station and the main railway station serving Wrexham, north-east Wales. It is currently operated by Transport for Wales, but services are also provided by Avanti West Coast who operate a service to London Euston. Until January 2011 Wrexham & Shropshire also operated from here to London Marylebone.
Ruabon railway station is a combined rail and bus interchange serving Ruabon in Wrexham, Wales. It is the second busiest station in Wrexham in terms of passenger journeys, after the mainline station, Wrexham General. It is on the Shrewsbury to Chester Line, which is part of the former Great Western Railway mainline route from London Paddington to Birkenhead Woodside which lasted until 1967.
Telford Central railway station serves the new town of Telford, England. It is situated close to the town centre, the main commercial district of the town. It is located on the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury Line 15+1⁄2 miles (24.9 km) north west of Wolverhampton and is operated by West Midlands Trains.
Renaissance Trains is a company formed in August 1997 by former British Rail managers Mike Jones and John Nelson with the purpose of promoting and investing in open access passenger and freight rail businesses in the United Kingdom, as well as promoting and investing in rail industry innovation. Mary Bonar and Peter Wilkinson are also shareholders. It is based in York.
Arriva UK Trains Limited is the company that oversees Arriva's train operating companies in the United Kingdom. It gained its first franchises in February 2000. These were later lost, though several others were gained. In January 2010, with the take-over of Arriva by Deutsche Bahn, Arriva UK Trains also took over the running of those formerly overseen by DB Regio UK Limited.
London Overground Rail Operations Limited was a train operating company contracted to operate the London Overground train service on the National Rail network, under the franchise control of Transport for London. The company was a 50/50 joint venture between Arriva UK Trains and MTR Corporation.
[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.
A Wrexham to London rail link is a step closer, after the Welsh Assembly Government offered funding for a depot.
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
Journey time will be around two-and-a half-hours.
Media related to Wrexham & Shropshire at Wikimedia Commons