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The West Coast Main Line modernisation will benefit passengers more than previously anticipated, a government repor...
The West Coast Main Line modernisation will benefit passengers more than previously anticipated, a government report confirms today.

From 2009 passengers will benefit from faster journey times and more services to key cities on the route such as Birmingham and Manchester.

The West Coast Main Line Progress Report details the planned timetable to be introduced following the completion of the project in 2008. Highlights of the new timetable include:

* London to West Midlands will be served by a train every 20 minutes to Coventry, Birmingham International and Birmingham New St, with a standard journey time of 1hr 23min to Birmingham.

* London to Manchester frequency increased from every half hour to every 20 minutes and accelerated to an end to end time of only 2hr 6min. The fastest train will take less than 2 hours.

* The regular timetable will make journeys between London and Liverpool around 20 minutes quicker than today. Extra peak trains will operate.

* Frequencies will be increased between London, Lancashire, Cumbria and Scotland. Journey times will be considerably reduced, with Glasgow trains being half an hour quicker than today's norm.

* A major improvement in weekend services throughout the route, with journey times and frequencies close to weekday levels.

The report also found that track improvements are being delivered on schedule, costs have been brought under control, reliability has been transformed and is exceeding target levels, and passenger numbers are up 30%.

Launching the report on his visit to view the planned works at Milton Keynes Central station, rail minister Derek Twigg said:

'This project has been a tremendous engineering feat, with over 1,200 miles of track laid already and improvements made so that trains can run at 125mph in tilt mode along the entire track. There is still hard work ahead, but credit must go to everyone involved in this remarkable project.

'Passengers have already seen faster journey times and improving reliability delivered by this project, and this is why so many more passengers are now using the West Coast Main Line. Now we have details of the second stage of benefits they will enjoy after the upgrade completes in 2008. These improvements from the project are even greater than we thought would be possible when this work started. Passengers on the West Coast Main Line can look forward to the future with confidence.'


1. A copy of the West Coast Main Line Progress Report is available on the DfT website at

2. The timetable improvements once the project is completed in 2008 will be better than previously anticipated. The regular journey times and trains per hour frequency from London to major stations will be:

London Euston to/from


Time (hr min) / Stops / Freq. (tph)

Current (2006)

Time (hr min) / Stops / Freq. (tph)

Latest Indicative Timetable for Post-project Time (hr min) / Stops / Freq. (tph)

Birmingham 1h 43m 3 2 1h 30m 3 2 1h 23m 3 3

New St.

Coventry 1h 11m 1 2 1h 04m 1 2 1h 00m 1 3

Manchester 2h 41m 4 1 2h 15m 3 2 2h 06m 3 2

via Stoke

Manchester 2h 56m n/a 2/day n/a n/a 4/day 2h 08m 3 1

via Crewe

Stoke 1h 51m 1 1 1h 31m 0 2 1h 28m 0 2

Liverpool 2h 53m 5 1 2h 30m 5 1 2h 09m 2 1**

Crewe 2h 08m 3 2 1h 45m 2 2 1h 35m 0 2**

Preston 3h 01m 5 1 2h 29m 5 1 2h 12m 2 1**

Carlisle 4h 04m 8 0-1 3h 44m 9 0-1 3h 22m 5 1*

Glasgow 5h 35m 10 0-1 5h 00m 10 0-1 4h 29m 6 1*

Chester 2h 38m 3 3/day 2h 10m 2 5/day 2h 02m 2 1

Holyhead 4h 28m 9 3/day 3h 52m 9 4/day 3h 45m 9 5/day

* - Final timetable being prepared. It is expected there will be two off-peak occasions when the service will be 2-hourly and extra trains will run at peak times of day.

** - Additional trains will operate at peak times of day

3. The fastest journey times on the route from London will be:

London Euston Pre- Current Latest

to/from project (2006) Indicative

Timetable for


Time Stops Time Stops Time Stops

Birmingham N St 1h 39m 1 1hr 21m 1 1h 18m 1

Manchester n/a n/a 2hr 05m 1 1h 59m 1

Liverpool n/a n/a 2hr 09m 1 2h 06m 1

Preston 2h 25m 0 2hr 10m 0 2h 07m 0

Glasgow 5h 06m 3 4hr 24m 1 4h 15m 1

4. The West Coast Main Line is 1,660 miles long and runs from Euston to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, North Wales and Scotland. It is responsible for over 2,000 train movements each day and caters for over 75m passenger journeys every year.

5. The engineering work completed so far includes line speed improvements throughout the route to 125mph in tilt mode, 1,266 miles of track renewed and 2,802 miles of signalling cable laid. Major individual projects include new platforms at Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton and Stockport, a new flyover and platforms at Nuneaton and three major new junctions on the route.

6. Remaining engineering work which will complete the modernisation project include additional line speed improvements on the London-Northampton line, and further work on the line at Stoke, Crewe and sections of Liverpool and Glasgow. Milton Keynes and Rugby stations will be enlarged, the Trent Valley route will be widened and a new depot will be opened at Northampton.

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