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“Please help me persuade Virgin Trains to stop closing lines on Bank Holidays and weekends” – Mark Speight

Description

Mark Speight

There is simply no need for Virgin - or any of the rail operators - to close major lines at weekends, holidays or during the day at all. There is enough taxpayer money supporting the industry to enable the train operators to undertake work at night.

Problem History

  • 1 Mark Speight reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 09:25 31 Aug 2011
  • 2 Mark Speight wrote to Virgin Trains close 09:25 31 Aug 2011

    Here is the letter that Mark Speight wrote.

    August Bank Holiday Sunday Delays, Diversions and Overcrowding

    The August Bank Holiday Sunday journey up to Lancaster was the worst I have had in 30 years and that's saying something. The schedule was scrapped, the train was rammed full; the conductor had no idea what was happening on his train and was shocked to find it packed; the train was delayed, diverted and took over 4 hours to do a 2 hour journey causing me to miss my connection and wait a further 2 hours at Lancaster.
    All work should be carried out at night. Lines - esp the West Coast Main Line - should not ever be closed at busy holiday periods or during the day. There is enough profit swilling round the Rail system to enable what is effectively a taxpayer-funded service to operate when taxpayers want to use it.
    Regards
    Mark Speight

  • 3 Relations, Customer responded to Mark Speight close 09:30 31 Aug 2011
    Thank you for contacting us.

    This is an automated email acknowledgement confirming receipt of
    your email.

    We will respond again shortly.

    Regards,

    Customer Relations
    Virgin Trains.

    show quoted sections

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  • 4 Relations, Customer responded to Mark Speight close 10:54 31 Aug 2011
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    Thank you for contacting us.

    We are currently dealing with a high level of correspondence. To
    provide a quick reply to as many customers as possible, this
    email includes answers to our most FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. 
    Please take a minute to read the list below as we are confident
    that it will include an answer to most enquiries, or details of
    any further information we need from you in order to process
    your enquiry/complaint.

    You can click on the relevant link, or scroll down through this
    email to read the full list.

    If we have not answered your question, please reply to this
    email to let us know. A member of our team will then send a full
    personal response as soon as possible. 

    There is no need to include the details of your complaint again,
    unless you are sending us additional information such as your
    address, tickets or booking details.

    If your enquiry is urgent, please call us on 0845 000 8000.

    Regards

    Customer Relations

    Virgin Trains

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    Please click on the relevant link for more information.

    o [4]I have already sent you a claim, complaint or refund but
    have not received a response. When can I expect a response?

    TIMETABLE INFORMATION, TICKET PRICES AND TRAINING RUNNING
    INFORMATION

    o [5]Train running information, timetable and fares
    information – where I can I find it for journeys today and
    in the future?
    o [6]How can I get the cheapest fares for my journey?
    o [7]I commute regularly on the same route – how do I get a
    Season Ticket?
    o [8]I want to book tickets for a group of 10 or more people,
    how do I do this?
    o [9]What are the Off Peak restrictions on Virgin Trains
    services?
    o [10]How do I make Seat and/or bike reservations?

    REFUNDS AND CHANGES TO BOOKINGS

    o [11]Refunds – how do I get a refund for a completely unused
    ticket?
    o [12]Advance tickets – how do I make changes to my travel
    plans?

    DELAYS, CANCELLATIONS AND OTHER COMPLAINTS ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY

    o [13]How do I get compensation if my train was delayed or
    cancelled?
    o [14]I was unhappy with the train I travelled on, or the
    service provided during the journey – how do I complain?
    o [15]I was travelling First Class and my train was
    declassified, how do I claim compensation?
    o [16]I reserved seats but they were occupied by someone else.
    How do I claim compensation?

    TICKET AND BOOKING PROBLEMS - GENERAL

    o [17]I am having problems with my internet booking – how do I
    get help?
    o [18]I have been charged twice for my booking after having
    problems. What can I do?
    o [19]I haven’t received my tickets. What can I do?

    FAST TICKET COLLECTION

    o [20]I have purchased tickets for myself to travel, for Fast
    Ticket collection but no longer have the card used for the
    booking. What can I do?
    o [21]I have purchased tickets for someone else, using Fast
    Ticket collection. They will not have the card with them to
    collect the tickets, what can I do?

    E-TICKETS

    o [22]I have purchased an e-ticket for someone else and their
    name does not appear on the ticket, or credit card used for
    the booking. What can I do?

    LOST PROPERTY

    o [23]Lost Property Enquiries

    OTHER COMMON QUESTIONS

    o [24]Can I take a Dog or other animal on Virgin Trains
    services?
    o [25]Do you carry prams, buggies and pushchairs?
    o [26]How do I claim Virgin Atlantic Air Miles on my booking?
    o [27]I am a Virgin Money card holder. How do I get my 10%
    discount?
    o [28]How do I get a job with Virgin Trains?

    I HAVE ALREADY SENT YOU A COMPLAINT, CLAIM OR REFUND BUT HAVE NOT
    RECEIVED A RESPONSE. WHEN CAN I EXPECT A RESPONSE?

    If you have contacted our Customer Relations team in Birmingham
    by post or email, you will receive an acknowledgement to confirm
    that we have received your correspondence. This will include
    your individual case reference number. We will then reply in
    full with a personal response as soon as we can.

    If you have applied for a refund by returning your tickets to
    our Refunds Department in Edinburgh, through your Virgin Trains
    Website Account, or by contacting our telesales team, your
    refund should be processed with 5-10 working days of the refund
    request being received. If you have not received your refund
    yet, please contact us on 0844 556 5650 for internet bookings,
    or 0871 977 4222 for telesales bookings and we will look into
    the matter further. Alternatively you can use our free
    [29]Online Chat Service.

    TIMETABLE INFORMATION, TICKET PRICES AND TRAINING RUNNING
    INFORMATION

    WHERE CAN I FIND CURRENT AND FUTURE TRAIN RUNNING INFORMATION?

    Train running information and full fares information for all UK
    train services, including details of any future engineering
    work, can be found at [30]www.nationalrail.co.uk or by
    contacting National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50; live train
    running information for Virgin Trains services can be found at
    [31]www.virgintrains.com.

    HOW CAN I GET THE CHEAPEST AVAILABLE FARES FOR MY JOURNEY?

    Our cheapest Advance fares are generally released twelve weeks
    before the date of travel, although the release date may be
    later for weekend, late night and bank holiday services when we
    have to wait for confirmation of any engineering work.

    You can check whether Advance fares have been released yet at
    our website, on the ‘Find our when to buy Advance tickets’
    calendar: [32]http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/tickets-of....

    You can also use the [33]Best Fares Finder to check the cheapest
    fares on Virgin Trains’ most popular routes, across a period of
    several days. If your journey is not included in the fares
    finder, tickets can be purchased from the main booking engine on
    our [34]website’s main page.

    We are unable to provide ticket price quotes by email because we
    sell a wide range of tickets and the price may have changed by
    the time you receive our email.

    I COMMUTE REGULARLY ON THE SAME ROUTE – HOW CAN I FIND SEASON TICKET
    PRICES AND BUY A TICKET?

    The National Rail website includes a [35]season ticket price
    calculator which includes prices for all UK rail routes.

    Season tickets can be purchased and renewed at the station where
    you start your journey. You will just need to take a passport
    sized photo with you for the photo card which is issued with new
    season tickets.

    I WANT TO BOOK TICKETS FOR A GROUP OF MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE, HOW DO I DO
    THIS?

    You can save up to 70% on your journey when travelling as a
    group of 10 or more, by booking tickets through our Group Travel
    Office on 08445 565 622. Calls cost 5ppm from a BT landline.
    Other operators' charges may vary.  We are unable to provide
    ticket price quotes by email because we sell a wide range of
    tickets and the price may have changed by the time you receive
    our email.

    WHAT ARE THE OFF PEAK RESTRICTIONS ON VIRGIN TRAINS SERVICES?

    Full details of Off Peak Restrictions on Virgin Trains services
    to and from London can be found on our website, at [36]this
    link.

    HOW DO I MAKE SEAT OR BIKE RESERVATIONS?

    You can make reservations for existing Virgin Trains bookings by
    calling 0844 556 5650 (for internet bookings), or 0871 977 4222
    (for telesales bookings). If you did not buy your tickets from
    us, we can make reservations for Virgin Trains services ONLY if
    you call this office on 0845 000 8000.

    Alternatively, they can be made at any staffed station, up to
    ten minutes before departure as long as reservations are still
    available on a specific train

    Bike reservations are mandatory on our trains due to the limited
    space available. We cannot accept bikes on a walk-up basis, and
    they are not permitted in the vestibules or passenger
    compartments of our trains.

    REFUNDS AND CHANGES TO BOOKINGS

    HOW DO I GET A REFUND FOR A COMPLETELY UNUSED TICKET?

    The refund conditions depend on your ticket type:

    Unused Off Peak or Anytime tickets: a full refund is payable,
    less a £10.00 administration fee.  You need to apply for a
    refund at the point of purchase within 28 days of the ticket(s)
    expiry date. See below for details of how to get a refund of you
    purchase your ticket from our website or telesales office.

    Unused Advance Single tickets no refunds are available. However
    if there are extenuating reasons for not being able to travel,
    such as illness, we may be able to reimburse you in the form of
    travel vouchers.  If this is the case, please send us your
    tickets with a covering letter and proof of the reason why you
    were unable to travel to us at [37]this address at the bottom of
    this email.

    If your tickets were unused because your train was cancelled and
    you abandoned your journey, please see the next section below
    about delayed or cancelled services.

    To obtain a refund on tickets purchased from Virgin Trains
    website or telesales office, you will need to do the following:

    If you have collected your tickets or they were delivered by
    post, you will need to return the tickets with a covering letter
    to: Virgin Trains Refunds Department, PO BOX 23972, Edinburgh,
    EH2 9AF.

    If you selected Fast Ticket Machine delivery but did not collect
    the tickets, for website bookings please login into the “[38]My
    Account” section of the website. Then click on ‘order status
    and refund applications’ and follow the instructions.
    Alternatively you can call 0844 556 5650 (for website bookings
    only). For telesales bookings you will need to contact us on
    0871 977 4222.

    ADVANCE TICKETS – HOW DO I MAKE CHANGES?

    For Advance tickets, changes of travel plans are possible (with
    the exception of e-tickets, which cannot be amended) up until
    departure for a supplement of £10.00 per ticket plus the
    difference between the fare paid and the cheapest available
    ticket for the requested dates.  Changes can be made at any
    staffed station, or by calling us on 0844 556 5650 (for website
    bookings) or 0871 977 4222 (for telesales bookings).

    Advance tickets are not valid for use on any train services
    other than those actually shown on the ticket or accompanying
    seat reservation coupon.  If for any reason you do not travel on
    the train you were specifically booked on without changing your
    ticket (as above), the ticket effectively becomes invalid, and I
    am afraid you will need to purchase a new ticket to travel.

    DELAYS, CANCELLATIONS AND OTHER COMPLAINTS ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY

    DELAYS, CANCELLATIONS , PROBLEMS WITH THE TRAIN YOU TRAVELLED ON, OR
    THE SERVICE PROVIDED DURING YOUR JOURNEY

    If you were delayed, we will offer you compensation in the form
    of travel vouchers for delays of more than one hour (or 45
    minutes on services between London and the West Midlands). If
    your train was cancelled and you were unable to travel, we will
    offer you a full refund.

    More details of our compensation policy for delays can be found
    in section 5.2 of our Passenger’s Charter at [39]this link.

    If you were unhappy in any way with the service provided during
    the journey, we will investigate your complaint and offer you
    compensation where applicable.

    Please note that if you booked tickets through Virgin Trains but
    travelled with another train operator, such as Cross Country,
    Transpennine or London Midland, you will need to contact the
    service operator regarding your compensation claim.

    In order to process your complaint, we will need the following
    information:

    Journey Details:  the date of travel, scheduled departure time,
    origin and destination stations, length of delay (if you
    travelled) and any other comments: (if you not have already sent
    us them to us in your previous email);

    Personal Details: Your title (Mr/Mrs/Ms etc), full name and full
    address, including your postcode. Please also include the email
    address used to contact us so we can refer back to your original
    email if necessary.

    We also need to receive your tickets, or some other proof of
    purchase, as follows:

    If you booked your tickets through the Virgin Trains website or
    telesales team we can process your compensation if you reply to
    this email with your booking reference, or Fast Ticket
    collection reference.

    If you did not book your tickets through the Virgin Trains
    website or telesales office, you will need to send your original
    tickets, or proof of purchase for the tickets (e.g. the
    confirmation email from the ticket seller) to us with a covering
    letter, at [40]this address.  Alternatively we will accept
    scanned copies of the tickets, or a copy of the booking
    confirmation if you can send them to us by replying to this
    email.

    I WAS TRAVELLING FIRST CLASS AND MY TRAIN WAS DECLASSIFIED, HOW DO I
    CLAIM COMPENSATION?

    If your train was declassified (i.e. Standard Class passengers
    were allowed to sit in First Class), we will usually offer you a
    refund of the difference between your ticket and the equivalent
    Standard Class fare for the affected part of your journey.

    To claim a refund, we will need to receive your tickets (or some
    other proof of purchase) and full journey details at [41]this
    address.  Alternatively we will accept scanned copies of the
    tickets, or a copy of the booking confirmation if you can send
    them to us by email.

    I RESERVED SEATS BUT THEY WERE OCCUPIED BY SOMEONE ELSE. HOW DO I
    CLAIM COMPENSATION?

    While we do not charge for a seat reservation, our Passenger’s
    Charter states that where we have been unable to provide the
    booked seat and the customer has had to stand for more than
    fifteen minutes, we will offer compensation equivalent to 5% of
    the cost of the journey.  This is purely a guideline and we will
    treat every case on its individual merits.

    In order to claim this compensation, we will need to receive
    your tickets (or some other proof of purchase) and full journey
    details at [42]this address.  Alternatively we will accept
    scanned copies of the tickets, or a copy of the booking
    confirmation if you can send them to us by replying to this
    email.

    TICKET AND BOOKING PROBLEMS - GENERAL

    I AM HAVING PROBLEMS WITH MY INTERNET BOOKING – HOW I GET HELP?

    If you do have any problems when booking online please e-mail us
    by going to our [43]Help Page, where there is an option to email
    us, or chat to a member of our technical support team. 
    Alternatively please call our Web Support team on 0844 556 5650
    and we will be happy to assist you.

    If you do experience difficulties while booking, we would advise
    checking the ‘My Account’ section of the website to ensure that
    no booking has been placed before re-trying.  Any bookings will
    be immediately displayed in your account and this will remove
    any doubt about the success of the transaction.  

    If you have experienced difficulties and subsequently have been
    charged more than once for your tickets, please contact 0844 556 5650
    and we will be happy to assist you.

    I HAVEN’T RECEIVED MY TICKETS. WHAT CAN I DO?

    E-tickets which you print at home should be sent to your email
    address within two hours. They can also be printed from your
    [44]Virgin Trains Account. If they do not appear in your
    account, please contact us on 0844 556 5650.

    Postal delivery - if the tickets do not arrive 24 hours before
    travel, please contact us on 0844 556 5650 for internet
    bookings, or 0871 977 4222 for telesales bookings and we can
    usually arrange for replacement tickets to be available for
    collection at the station.

    Please note that we do not send replacement tickets by post, and
    cannot arrange replacements until 24 hours before travel, in
    case the original tickets do reach you after being delayed in
    transit.

    If you did not receive your tickets and had to buy new tickets
    to travel, please send the replacement tickets along with proof
    of purchase for the original booking, plus a covering letter, to
    us at our Customer Relations Department. Our address can be
    found [45]here. We will then consider a refund or compensation,
    depending on the circumstances.

    FAST TICKET COLLECTION

    I HAVE PURCHASED TICKETS FOR FAST TICKET COLLECTION BUT NO LONGER HAVE
    THE CARD USED FOR THE BOOKING. WHAT CAN I DO?

    In order to collect tickets from our Fast Ticket machines, you
    must be in possession of the credit or debit card used to make
    the booking, as well as the Ticket Collection reference. 

    If the card has been lost or stolen, the ticket office staff may
    be able to print your tickets if you are able to provide
    suitable photo ID (such as a passport or driving licence) as
    proof that you are the card holder for the booking.

    However this arrangement is at the discretion of the station
    staff. If you are unable to provide suitable personal
    identification, or the card holder is not one of the travellers,
    I regret that we are unable to assist and new tickets will have
    to be purchased. A refund may be available for on the unused
    tickets as detailed [46]here.

    I HAVE PURCHASED TICKETS FOR SOMEONE ELSE AND CHOSE FAST TICKET
    COLLECTION. THEY WILL NOT HAVE THE CARD WITH THEM TO COLLECT THE
    TICKETS, WHAT CAN I DO?

    If you have booked tickets on behalf of someone else, for
    collection at the station ticket machine, they must be in
    possession of the credit or debit card used to make the booking,
    as well as the Ticket Collection reference to obtain the
    tickets. 

    If they are unable to provide both the card and reference, they
    will be unable to print the tickets. New tickets will then have
    to be purchased. We do therefore recommend using postal delivery
    if you are booking on behalf of someone else. A refund can be
    applied for on the unused tickets as detailed [47]here.

    E-TICKETS

    I HAVE PURCHASED AN E-TICKET FOR SOMEONE ELSE. THEIR NAME DOESN’T
    APPEAR ON THE TICKET, AND/OR THE CREDIT CARD USED FOR THE BOOKING.
    WHAT CAN I DO?

    For identification purposes, the debit/credit card used to buy
    the ticket must be carried when travelling and the name on the
    card must match the name of the lead passenger on the ticket. 
    If you have purchased an e-ticket for someone else using your
    credit or debit card and they are travelling alone, the ticket
    will be invalid and a new ticket will have to be purchased.

    If you are travelling as a group with e-tickets, we do give
    customers the option to add the other passenger’s names to their
    tickets. Sometimes just the name of the lead passenger will be
    printed on all of the tickets.  This is not a problem, as long
    the lead passenger paid for the tickets using their credit/debit
    card and they are also named as the lead passenger on all of the
    tickets.  However the other passenger(s) should not travel alone
    without the lead passenger, as their e-ticket(s) would
    effectively become invalid and a new ticket would have to be
    purchased for travel.

    LOST PROPERTY

    Unclaimed items will be put into the lost property at the
    station where the train terminates, or the station where the
    item is found. The telephone numbers for lost property offices
    can be obtained by calling this office on 0845 000 8000, or at
    the National Rail website:
    [48]http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_d...

    All lost property left at Virgin Trains stations is collected at
    the beginning of each month by a company called Pakex.  This
    includes only Virgin-operated stations and does not therefore
    involve London Euston, Birmingham New Street or Manchester
    Piccadilly, which are managed by Network Rail.  Pakex receive a
    daily list from our station teams, detailing all items handed
    in.  They are therefore able to maintain a database of any lost
    property at our stations.  Pakex can be contacted on 01707
    373734 and if your item is found, it can be posted out to you.

    OTHER COMMON QUESTIONS

    CAN I TAKE A DOGS OR OTHER ANIMALS ON VIRGIN TRAINS SERVICES?

    Yes, you can take dogs and other small animals with you on our
    trains. Dogs must be kept on a lead and other animals must be
    kept in a basket or pet carrier at all times. They should not be
    allowed on seats.  No animals, with the exception of blind or
    deaf persons’ assistance dogs are allowed in the on board shop.

    DO YOU CARRY PRAMS, BUGGIES AND PUSHCHAIRS?

    Due to the restricted space available on our trains, we do have
    to ask that you only travel with prams, buggies and pushchairs
    which are foldable and can be stored in the luggage area at the
    end of each carriage. Your child should either occupy a seat, or
    be carried on your lap.

    HOW DO I CLAIM VIRGIN ATLANTIC AIR MILES ON MY BOOKING?

    Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members can earn miles when booking
    tickets for Virgin Trains services via [49]www.virgintrains.com.
    Customers need to provide their Flying Club membership number at
    the time of booking.  Bookings made through other outlets like
    telesales or stations will not earn miles.

    Miles can only be earned when travelling with Virgin Trains only
    and on selected fares. If you need to start or end your journey
    on another Train Operator’s services then you will have to
    purchase the journeys separately to ensure you earn your miles
    on the Virgin Trains journey.

    Miles will be allocated up to 5 days after the day of travel
    when booking an Advance fare.  Miles for Anytime, Off Peak,
    Super Off Peak and Virgin Business tickets will be allocated up
    to 65 days after the outward date of travel.

    If you have not received air miles after this time, please log
    into your Virgin Atlantic account, where you can find and
    complete a missing air miles claim form.

    Air Miles cannot be used for travel on Virgin Trains.

    HOW DO I GET A 10% DISCOUNT ON RAIL TICKETS WITH MY VIRGIN MONEY
    CREDIT CARD?

    Virgin Money Credit Card holders can enjoy 10% off selected
    Advance fares on Virgin Trains, simply by booking online with
    their cards.  Tickets must be purchased through the dedicated
    Virgin Money Page on our website, or the discount will not be
    applied to your booking: 
    [50]http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/vmoney/

    HOW DO I GET A JOB WITH VIRGIN TRAINS?

    All vacancies at Virgin Trains are advertised through our
    website, where you can sign up for job alerts, to notify you of
    new vacancies: 
    [51]http://www.virgintrainscareers.co.uk/Exp...

    You can also check the careers page at the main Virgin Group
    website for jobs at other Virgin companies:
    [52]http://careers.virgin.com/

    We do not offer work experience placements, or accept
    speculative applications. We also do not anticipate there being
    any vacancies for Train Drivers for the foreseeable future.

    VIRGIN TRAINS CUSTOMER RELATIONS: CONTACT DETAILS

    If you are sending in any information by post, please reply to
    this email to let us know, so we can reply in full to your
    complaint once your tickets and/or correspondence has been
    received.

    Customer Relations
    Virgin Trains
    FREEPOST BM 6613
    PO BOX 713
    Birmingham
    B5 4HH

    Telephone: 08450 008 000

    Fax: 0121 654 7500
    Text phone: 0121 654 7528

    show quoted sections
  • 5 Myf Nixon commented close 11:46 31 Aug 2011

    I have to support this one - I know that commuters are more valued customers but my own experience (as someone with family) is that we travel more at weekends. It seems every time we go anywhere, we're put on buses.

    Every year we see the 'bank holiday nightmare travel' stories; you'd think something could be done about it.

    anorak
    admin
  • 6 Dave H commented close 13:55 31 Aug 2011

    The solution is to campaign for HS0 - building back the contingency into the existing and abandoned rail routes.

    London to Birmingham via WCML - a 4-track (fast line/slow line) route between Euston and Rugby with 2-track bottleneck Rugby-Birmingham is 113 miles.

    London to Birmingham via GW/GC joint direct line is 112.5 miles, and the route reopened this week upgraded through Chiltern Rail revenue and normal Network Rail investment as a full 100mph route, on which Chiltern are running trains with 125mph capability. This railway is a 20th century railway, built to take larger trains in prospect (in the 1900's!) of through traffic from the Channel Tunnel. The land was bought for a 4-track railway and in places was built as 4 tracks but was decimated by Beeching to just a single track in places. Track alignments are good for 125mph and possibly higher (100mph limited by track layouts and signalling to affordable budget). In May 1962 a prototype diesel loco averaged 100mph and hit 105mph through Bicester with old jointed track & semaphore signals. So a better upgrade of this line will deliver Birmingham in around 59 minutes for a fraction of the cost of Birmingham in 49 minutes (and a 20-30 minute walk to the connecting trains!)

    The important bit is that Willesden Junction is 'connected to Old Oak Common, and with some re-engineering of the railway lines that fill the space between it will be much simpler to reprise what Virgin did for one period of closure of the WCML and run 12-coach diesel trains from Euston and via Banbury to Coventry. With the right layout we could have a 2 4-track 140mph main lines on these existing corridors, that can be switched between Euston and Paddington, allowing one line or terminus to close for maintenance or when an incident occurs in a seamless operation. This would be really useful for the project to electrify all the lines in to Paddington.

    Heading North the Chiltern Line improvements have left the earthworks in place for a flying junction at Ashenden, so the tracks can be relaid to Rugby and possibly Leicester, and a few short connections would give other routes similar 7-day flexibility and valuable contingency connections (instead of advising St Pancras - Wellingborough and get someone to collect you when Euston-Northampton trains are stopped (as they have been almost weekly in the recent past), all for the wont of 7 miles of railway ripped out in the mid 1960's

    In Scotland many years back the train services were restored between Cumbernauld and Falkirk. With the line now regularly used by passnger trains it is now easy to switch other services from the parallel main Edinburgh-Glasgow route and shut it for maintenance or when a problem arises. A few re-connections up the Country and we can have that 7-day railway and for the HS0 (like Platform 0 fitted in to the existing land and rails at Cardiff, Stockport Haymarket and Kings Cross) we can put big towns like Lutterworth, Daventry , Brackley and (at a pinch) Buckingham back on the UK rail map

    PS a decent signalling upgrade for the Midland Main Line between Leeds and Carlisle (above the cheap addition of IB signals and speed increase from 75 to 90mph), would make this a viable regular option to divert trains - using the plug in diesel locos 6 of which have been retired by Virgin as they no longer use them to haul the electric trains to Holyhead, but retain some for moving electric trains past places where the power is switched off for engineering work.

  • 7 Myf Nixon advised Mark to write to Network Rail. close 16:54 31 Aug 2011

    Hi Mark,

    I've heard that line closures are overseen by Network Rail rather than the individual train companies, so you might have more luck directing your complaint there. Hope that's helpful.

    Good luck!

    Myf Nixon

    anorak
    admin
  • 8 rob smith commented close 19:40 31 Aug 2011

    I thought it was Network Rail that closed lines rather than train operators. Just curious but do you know for certain that theres enough money to avoid weekend closures, or is it a guess?

  • 9 Mark Speight wrote to Network Rail following Myf Nixon's advice. close 09:31 01 Sep 2011

    As a suffering passenger on the August Bank Holiday Sunday between Euston and Lancaster it seems to me there really is no reason why engineering work has to be done when people are travelling in large numbers to see their families. There is enough taxpayer subsidy washing around the industry for this work to be carried out at night. The situation is as bad now as it was when I started doing this journey 30 years ago. It is an embarrasment explaining to aghast American tourists that they have to sit in the corridor outside the malodourous toilet for four hours as the train schedule has been scrapped for the day.

    Regards

    Mark

  • 10 Mark Speight commented close 09:37 01 Sep 2011

    Hi Myf, Dave H:

    I have transferred this issue to Network Rail as you recommended, Myf. Dave H: excellent idea. It needs to be written into Network Rail's and the train operating co's contracts - though these contracts are notoriously opaque and I doubt the government has the appetite to reopen them except on a case-by-case basis.

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions,

    Mark

  • 11 Mark Speight commented close 09:51 01 Sep 2011

    Hi Rob.
    It's a guess based on the £5 billion of public subsidy each year and the fact that the train operating co's make a profit / guaranteed return on investment.

    regards

    Mark

  • 12 Slip Digby commented close 13:12 01 Sep 2011

    It's not really as simple as suggesting that Network Rail "do it at night". This is especially the case with a 24 hour 7 day railway such as the West Coast Mainline. Plenty of jobs require closure to traffic of the entire work site due to the nature of the work, eg; certain bridge renewals or complicated switch work. Allowing full blockades means that work can be undertaken much faster and at a cheaper cost, and completed in one blockade period rather than dragging out over an extended period of time (with attendant disruption/service and line restrictions).

  • 13 Slip Digby commented close 13:25 01 Sep 2011

    Apologies, I ought to have written:

    The issue with suggesting work is solely undertaken at night is that it only offers a limited time window to actually get anything done. By the time normal services have been put to bed for the day and the engineering plant and equipment shifted to site, there are only a few hours remaining before an operable railway has to be restored before the AM peak. With large and complicated jobs, this way of working would be both inefficient and often impossible. Inevitably therefore, some long possessions of lines are required during the day time. It makes sense to schedule these where flows are lowest and with minimal alterations to traffic. Unfortunately, this does mean that there will always be people who will suffer extended journey times or disruption to their journey.

  • 14 Mark Speight commented close 14:28 01 Sep 2011

    Hi Slip

    I take your good point re. minimising disruption and short windows of opportunity to work at night - some things can only be done in one heave, true. However couldn't night-time working windows be extended a little by taking out the last / first trains... just a thought. And my point about Bank Holiday working still stands - why then? Surely they can't be the quietest weekends of the year...

    regards

    Mark

  • 15 CRHQ responded to Mark Speight close 16:58 02 Sep 2011
    Dear Mr Speight

    Thank you for contacting Network Rail. One of our dedicated Community Relations teams would be more than happy to assist you with your enquiry. To enable us to collate all the information required to investigate thoroughly, please speak to our National Helpline on 08457 11 41 41. One of our customer service advisors will be able to supply you with a unique reference number and explain the next steps in dealing with your request.

    For future reference, please note that our National Helpline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. If you would prefer to get in touch via email then please visit the 'contact us' section on our website using the following link:

    http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/1346.a...

    Kind regards

    Brian Wortman
    Communications Manager
    Network Rail

    show quoted sections
  • 16 Dave H commented close 12:43 16 Sep 2011

    Mark/Slip The point here is that we have ripped out the diversionary and contingency options because some bean counting accountants saw rusty rails. As lat as the 1980's the rails were in and working between Bletchley and Oxford, and when the line from Euston was closed train ran from Paddington

    Occasionally we make a small move in the right direction - electrifying the line from Crewe to Kidsgrove meant that the main route from Crewe to Stafford could be closed and trains by-pass the closure. Saving the Settle & Carlisle route keeps a way round closing the line between Preston and Carlisle, with Virgin having the sound sense to invest in Class 57 locomotives that can plug in to their Pendolino trains and take the train over a non-electrified route.

    Sadly (in my view) the Secretary of State 's advisors seem to have convinced him that technology can cover contingency and do this at a low cost. I subscribe to the alternative tangible resources point of view, with a clear and coherent base-line to work with - not the mess we have at present with trains operated by a single operator still unable to couple together and operate, and short sighted cost cutting removing useful connecting track (it is I gather impossible to get between the parallel slow and fast line on the main London to Brighton Route between Selhurst and Battersea - or even Victoria. Removing options to get around a broken down train, or turn back trains if there is a problem ahead - just one big queue. Probably costing far more than the residual maintenance of a facility which will now cost a lot more to put back)

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Train route between Lancaster and London Euston operated by Virgin Trains
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