Virgin confident of capital link success

Virgin Trains high speed tilting Pendolino
Virgin Trains high speed tilting Pendolino
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A direct train service from Blackpool to London could be reinstated by the end of the year, rail bosses have today revealed.

Virgin Rail has said it is “cautiously optimistic” it will be able to reinstate the service in December.

The company is finalising a renewed bid to put on two direct trains a day to the capital, which will have to be approved by the Office for Rail Regulation (ORR) before the service can get up and running.

But commuters, who welcomed the news, have warned the direct trains, which have not run since 2003, need to be properly thought out.

Chairman of the Blackpool Rail Users Panel Stephen Brookes, said: “We know Virgin have been trying to get this service back again and this will be excellent if it at the right time of day.

“If it is at the right time, arriving at around 9.30am and returning at around 5pm, it will be well patronised.

“We need a through service and we need a timely service. But there’s no use saying it is going to be at 11am and 2pm.

“If this goes ahead it will be good for Blackpool.

“It will make the journey very doable and give more people the opportunity of working in London.”

He said he can get from the capital to Preston in just over two hours but then faces a 40 minute wait to change trains, time he says is wasted.

A spokesman for Virgin said: “We are working with Network Rail to identify possible timings for a return service to Blackpool.

“We have not confirmed the details of that yet but once we do it will be submitted to the ORR for their approval. We are cautiously optimistic that we may be able to start direct services in December 2014.”

Virgin’s last bid to reinstate the service was turned down by the ORR and Network rail, who said the timetable was too crowded, but recent rail improvements were designed to boost capacity on the line.

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