Virgin Plans Indie Budget West Coast Train Line for 2021

By Gary Cutlack on at

Virgin Trains is trying to stop itself being kicked out of the UK's rail scene by next year, and has asked rail bosses if it might be allowed to run an independent, franchise-rivalling service all by itself.

This is allowed under "open access" rules, they say, with Virgin claiming it'd operate an alternative budget rival line from London to Liverpool in competition with whoever ends up running the west coast mainline. On the same tracks, obviously. Given there's not much space out there on the lines, this competing service would only run hourly or thereabouts, with all tickets sold on a reservation-only basis to end standing and the shame of sitting on the floor near the toilet, tutting as businessmen emerge shamefaced from their massive poos and don't shut the door behind them.

In order to gain approval from the Office of Rail and Road, Virgin has to prove it is offering something new and not just trying to hustle business away from the future holder of its old west coast franchise. Hence tickets on the hourly trains could be sold at around 10 per cent less than the norm, with the trains stopping at stations not currently served as frequently as others. Virgin says its route would do Euston-Lime Street with stops at Lichfield, Tamworth, Nuneaton and Liverpool South Parkway.

There could be "at-seat catering" too, which would feel posh. Seeing as it already has trains, staff, loads of red ties and stuff, Virgin says the rival services could be running by May 2021 if the regulator pulls the lever to the yes position. [Virgin Trains]