Wrexham & Shropshire

Wrexham & Shropshire

Infobox Rail companies
franchise=Not subject to franchising;
Open-access operator
image_filename=Wrexham and Shropshire 67012 Marylebone TT1.jpg
franchise=Not subject to franchising;
Open-access operator
28 April 2008 - 2014
regions=London MaryleboneWrexham
parent_company=DB Regio/Renaissance Trains

Wrexham & Shropshire is the operating name of the Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company, a train operating company in the United Kingdom. The company operates passenger train services from Wrexham (in North Wales) via Shropshire to London on an open-access basis, with its agreement for a seven year period from December 2007. [cite press release|title=ORR announces decision on additional services between London and Wrexham|date=2007-09-03|publisher=Office of Rail Regulation|url=http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.8899|accessdate=2007-09-03] Wrexham & Shropshire began running services on 28 April 2008. [cite web|title=New direct rail service launches this April|publisher=Wrexham & Shropshire|url=http://www.wrexhamandshropshire.co.uk/item.php?id=22&type=1|accessdate=2008-04-02] [cite journal|author=Clinnick, Richard|title=40 years on – Wrexham and Shropshire takes to the rails|journal=Rail|volume=591|date=May 7-20 2008|pages=6-7]

The main purpose of the company is to restore direct services between London and Shropshire (formerly one of only two counties in England without a direct rail link to the English capital; the remaining one is tiny Rutland); the previous services operated by Virgin Trains were withdrawn in 2000.



From Wrexham General, the route runs via Chirk, Ruabon and Gobowen (near Oswestry) to Shrewsbury, then via Wellington, Telford Central and Cosford [cite news
title =New rail link between Shropshire and London
work =Where I Live - Shropshire
publisher =bbc.co.uk
date =2007-01-30
url =http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/articles/2006/02/02/new_rail_link_feature.shtml
accessdate =2007-03-10
] to Wolverhampton. From Wolverhampton, the service has the major obstacle of Birmingham to circumvent: it is routed via and calls at Tame Bridge Parkway. Services then continue via New Street and Tyseley or Birmingham International and Coventry, before joining the Chiltern Main Line at Leamington Spa. Trains then call at Banbury and finally London Marylebone.

Under the terms of Wrexham & Shropshire's Track Access Contract, trains will not be permitted to call at Coventry or Leamington Spa. [cite web
title =Track Access Contract
publisher =Office of Rail Regulation
date =2007-09-10
url =http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/s17-wsmr-nr-dec-let-100907.pdf
format =PDF
accessdate =2007-10-20
] However, the agreement does allow for WSMR trains to serve Birmingham International, but the company's timetable does not include this.cite web
title =Proposed timetable
publisher =Wrexham & Shropshire official website
date =
url =http://www.wrexhamandshropshire.co.uk/timetable.html
accessdate =2007-10-20
] However, services do call at Tame Bridge Parkway, a station with a substantial car park and good bus services, with the additional benefit of providing Walsall with a direct service to London.


Wrexham & Shropshire's initial timetable is for five trains per day between Wrexham and London, with a total journey time of between 4 and 4½ hours. The company have acknowledged that these journey times are longer than they would like;Fact|date=March 2008 however, as a new operator they are bound to work around existing operators' services, and as a result the timetables allow a large amount of waiting time, particularly in the West Midlands. Also, between Aynho Junction and Princes Risborough the WSMR trains are subject to lower differential speed restrictions that do not affect the Chiltern Railways DMUs. The most severe restriction is between Bicester North and Princes Risborough where WSMR trains are limited to 60mph. WSMR trains must share tracks with the intensive Chiltern Railways service and there are few overtaking opportunities. Schedules over the 68.7 mile route from Marylebone to Banbury are slow, typically 71 to 74 minutes.

In the long term, the company is aiming to reduce journey times as follows:
*London to Tame Bridge Parkway: 2 hours
*London to Telford Central: 2 hours 35 minutes
*London to Shrewsbury: 2 hours 50 minutes
*London to Wrexham: 3 hours 30 minutes

Restrictions on services

WSMR's original proposal was to commence operations by summer 2007, but plans were delayed because of a "moderation of competition" protection clause in Virgin Trains' West Coast franchise agreement. Unless Virgin were willing to give their agreement to WSMR services calling at Wolverhampton, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said they would have to reject the WSMR proposals. [cite press release
title =Wrexham and Shropshire responds to consultation on its proposals to provide direct train services to London
publisher = Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company
date =2007-02-27
url =http://www.wsmr.co.uk/admin/userfiles/Consultation%20Response%2027-02-07.pdf
accessdate =2007-03-10
] A revised Track Access Application was submitted, which was subsequently approved by the ORR. Under the amended proposals, WSMR trains call at Wolverhampton only to pick up passengers northbound, and set down southbound. To offset the reduction in potential passengers, services call additionally at Tame Bridge Parkway.

Similarly to Wolverhampton, at Banbury southbound trains set down passengers only and northbound trains pick up only.cite web
title =Application for Passenger Track Access by WSMR
publisher =Office of Rail Regulation
date =
url =http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/s17-wsmr-ntaa-appfrm.pdf
format =PDF
accessdate =2007-10-20
] At both stations, there are already services to London provided by other operators.

Rival services

In February 2008, Virgin Trains announced that they would also begin services between London and Wrexham on a trial basis from December 2008, with one train per day on weekdays in each direction. Should the service prove successful, Virgin plan to introduce more services during the week and at weekends. [cite news
last = Crump
first = Eryl
title= Wrexham to London rail link launch
url = http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/2008/02/21/wrexham-to-london-rail-link-launch-55578-20501954/
publisher = Daily Post
date = 2008-02-21
accessdate = 2008-04-25
quote = Journey time will be around two-and-a half-hours.
] [cite press release
title = Wrexham set to join Virgin Trains network
url = http://www.virgintrainsmediaroom.com/index.cfm?articleid=1109
date = 2008-02-20
accessdate = 2008-06-04
publisher = Virgin Trains
] Virgin's services will operate from London Euston along the West Coast Main Line via Crewe and Chester using Class 221 "SuperVoyager" trains, with a journey time to Wrexham of approximately 2½ hours - compared with WSMR's average of 4 hours. However, as will be an extension of the London-Chester service it will not serve stations in Shropshire or the West Midlands.

Future services

The Welsh Assembly Government announced a proposal to introduce express services between North and South Wales featuring trains with first class accommodation to attract business travellers. Wrexham & Shropshire declared an interest in the operation of these services from Wrexham to Cardiff in April 2008. [cite news
last =Clark
first =Rhodri
title=Trains carry true taste of Wales
publisher=Western Mail
quote =


Once Wrexham & Shropshire's own dedicated fleet is in service, trains will have 128 standard seats and 24 first class seats. [cite web
publisher=Wrexham & Shropshire
title=Our trains
] Most seats are to be at tables, with a few in "Airline" style, and all are planned to be aligned with the windows, [cite web
publisher=Wrexham & Shropshire
title=Standard class accommodation
] while there will also be a buffet provided. From Summer 2008 there will be wireless internet access on board. [cite web
publisher=Wrexham & Shropshire
title=WiFi – launching this summer

Rolling stock

Services are operated by locomotive-hauled trains. Each train is formed of a convert|125|mph|abbr=on|sigfig=2-capable Class 67 diesel locomotive, three Mark 3 carriages, and a Mark 3 Driving Van Trailer (DVT).cite web
title =Trains and livery
publisher =Wrexham & Shropshire
url =http://www.wrexhamandshropshire.co.uk/livery.html
accessdate =2007-10-20
] Wrexham & Shropshire has obtained a total of four complete train sets, with twelve Mark 3 coaches currently on hire from charter company, Cargo-D Rail, and four Class 67 locomotives from EWS. The Mark 3 coaches owned by the company and the four DVTs obtained from Porterbrook are currently being refurbished by Marcroft at Stoke on Trent.cite web
title =Presentation to Shropshire County Rail Forum
publisher =Shropshire County Council
date =2006-10-13
url =http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/committee.nsf/0/82DCDA7D709A71AC802571FF00337312/$file/061013%20shrops%20county%20pres.pdf
accessdate =2007-10-22|format=PDF

In the week of 8 October 2006, a trial run was carried out using the EWS Company Train, from London Marylebone to Wrexham General via the proposed route. Originally the locomotive/DVT arrangement were used for expediency in getting a test run organised. However, as the test train arrived on time (despite a delay at Wolverhampton), it demonstrated that such a combination was a viable option. There were regular trains between Wrexham and Marylebone to test the timetable between March and the launch in April 2008.

Services commenced on April 28th 2008. As the DVTs and dedicated WSMR mk3 coaches were still being refurbished by Marcroft all trains were run initially with a Class 67 at each end of the train of 3 or 4 mk3 coaches on hire from Cargo-D. This required the daily use of 3 coaching sets and six locomotives operating top and tail. They are allowed to operate at up to 100mph, although there are few opportunities to do so. There are 5 services each way Monday-Friday, 4 on Saturdays and 3 on Sundays.

Earlier proposals included the possible use of diesel multiple units, such as the Class 158 or Class 170.

Wrexham & Shropshire has also named four of its Class 67 trains. Competitions were held and the names are as follows:
* 67015 was named "David J. Lloyd" (was named in May 2008) [Today's Railways Issue 81]
* 67012 was named "A Shropshire Lad" (was named on 3 July 2008)cite journal|url=http://www.railwayherald.co.uk/issues/RHUK/Issue140.pdf#page=6|journal=Railway Herald|title=Wrexham & Shropshire names its pool of Class 67s|month=July|year=2008|accessdate=2008-08-15|issn=1751-8091]
* 67013 was named "Dyfrbont Pontcysyllte" (Pontcysyllte Aqueduct) (was named on 9 July 2008)
* 67014 was named "Thomas Telford" (was named on 15 July 2008)

Ownership and management

Wrexham & Shropshire was founded a joint venture between two existing railway companies: Renaissance Trains and Laing Rail. DB Regio, a subsidiary of the German state railway operator Deutsche Bahn acquired Laing Rail in January 2008, and with it their interest in Wrexham & Shropshire. The directors of the company include John Nelson and Mike Jones from Renaissance Trains (also directors of Hull Trains) and Adrian Shooter (Chairman and Managing Director of Chiltern Railways and Chairman of the A.T.O.C.) and Andy Hamilton both from Laing Rail, Hamilton (former Engineering Director of Chiltern Railways) being appointed as Managing Director.

Track record of the partners

Renaissance Trains are a partner in Hull Trains, an open-access operator which has provided services between Hull and London Kings Cross since 2000. Hull Trains' punctuality record is 94.8%, the second-best punctuality figures amongst all long-distance train operating companies in Britain. [ cite press release|title=Hull Trains performance just gets better and better|date=2006-06-30| publisher=Hull Trains|url=http://www.hulltrains.net/latestnews.php?id=121&page=4|accessdate=2007-03-19] They were also awarded the "Golden Spanner" in 2005 and 2006 for the reliability of their trains. [cite press release|title=Hull Trains wins prestigious reliability award for second year running|date=2006-12-06|publisher=Hull Trains|url=http://www.hulltrains.net/latestnews.php?id=131&page=2|accessdate=2007-03-19]

In the United Kingdom, DB Regio are the owners of Chiltern Railways (also previously part of Laing Rail). [ cite article|title=Germans set to run Chiltern as Deutsche Bahn buys Laing Rail|date=2008-01-22|publisher=Times Online|url=http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article3228220.ece|accessdate=2008-01-23] Since being awarded their franchise in 1996, Chiltern Railways increased passenger numbers by 70%, increased services by a third and more than doubled the number of carriages operated [cite web|title=Investments and Achievements|publisher=Chiltern Railways|url=http://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/content.php?nID=43|accessdate=2007-03-19] while being the third most punctual train operator in the UK with a record of 94.5% for the second financial quarter of 2007/2008. [cite web|url=http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/347.pdf PPM actual|title=Office of Rail Regulation - National Rail Trends|publisher=ORR] Chiltern Railways already operate services between London Marylebone and Kidderminster along part of the Wrexham & Shropshire route. In December 2007, Henderson Group, the parent company of John Laing plc announced the sale of the Laing Rail division, which comprises the stake in Wrexham & Shropshire, as well as the Chiltern Railways franchise and a 50% stake in London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL). Two bidders emerged, Deutsche Bahn and NedRail, [ [http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article3021314.ece Rail rivals line up Chiltern] The Sunday Times - 9 December, 2007] with DB ultimately being successful.


Trains are stabled overnight in the previously disused bay platform at Wrexham General and the previously disused offices there serve as the train crew depot. [cite news
last =Crump
first =Eryl
title =New rail company plans direct Wrexham link with London
work =Daily Post
publisher = icNorthWales.co.uk
date =2006-10-13
url =http://icnorthwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/regionalnews/tm_headline=new-rail-company-plans-direct-wrexham-link-with-london%26method=full%26objectid=17922082%26siteid=50142-name_page.html
accessdate =2007-03-10
] Customer services are based in Coton Hill, Shrewsbury. [ [http://www.wrexhamandshropshire.co.uk/contact-us.php Wrexham and Shropshire] Contact Us]

Welsh Assembly funding

In October 2006, the Welsh Assembly announced that WSMR did not qualify for employment grants which it would then use to improve the facilities at Wrexham General station 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 had to relocate to Shrewsbury, which would have affected the number of services it could run to Wrexham. [cite news
title =Pledge over capital rail link
work =Shropshire Star
publisher =
date =2006-10-19
url =http://www.shropshirestar.co.uk/2006/10/pledge-over-capital-rail-link/
quote= [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.
accessdate =2007-03-10
] However, in November 2006, the Welsh Assembly announced that the WSMR "was" eligible for the money, and as a result, a site survey at Wrexham General was undertaken. The depot would be open to all train operating companies. [cite news
title =Rail depot may bring London link
work =BBC News
publisher =bbc.co.uk
date =2006-11-21
url =http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_east/6168562.stm
quote = A Wrexham to London rail link is a step closer, after the Welsh Assembly Government offered funding for a depot.
accessdate =2007-03-10

ee also

*Railways of Shropshire


External links

* [http://www.wrexhamandshropshire.co.uk Wrexham & Shropshire official website]
* [http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.210 WSMR revised track access application] on the ORR website
* [http://www.shropshirestar.co.uk/2007/01/train-service-could-bring-boost Shropshire Star article]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_east/4667780.stm BBC News article]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/content/articles/2006/02/02/new_rail_link_feature.shtml BBC Shropshire webpage]
* [http://www.shrewsbury.gov.uk/public/council/committees/overview/2006-04-06/minutes.htm Presentation given to Shrewsbury and Atcham borough council]
* [http://www.laing.com/rail/index_rail.htm Laing Rail]
* [http://www.renaissancetrains.com Renaissance Trains]
* [http://www.shrewsbury.gov.uk/public/council/committees/overview/2006-04-06/minutes.htm Shrewsbury Council Overview Committee Minutes 6th April 2006]

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