Stoke-on-Trent City Council has welcomed the news that a direct rail service to London will be maintained when a franchise changes hands bringing with it a new hourly train to Birmingham, thanks to the Conservative-Independent administration at the City Council.
West Midlands Trains Ltd has today confirmed there will still be a direct service from Stoke-on-Trent to London Euston from December 2018, despite reports in the media suggesting it would be lost. The company is taking over the franchise from London Midland, which has run a train from the Potteries to the capital for 10 years.
Before it was first announced publicly 12 months ago that the Stoke-on-Trent to London Euston train could be removed, Conservative Councillors had already been in talks behind the scenes with franchise bidders to ensure the best deal possible for the city, including meetings at the Civic Centre. The council pushed not only for the service to the capital to remain, but for improved connectivity to Birmingham from Stoke-on-Trent.
The new Conservative MP for Stoke South, Jack Brereton, was instrumental in the talks during his role as Cabinet Member for Transport.
The news that the new hourly Birmingham train will carry on to London not only ensures a continued train to the capital alongside the existing Virgin service, but also increases services between Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham by 50 per cent at the same time.
Conservative Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “For more than 12 months we have been involved in work behind the scenes to promote the city’s interests and make sure we get a great deal. We’ve met with companies who were interested in taking on the franchise, including the successful operator, and explained to them how Stoke-on-Trent is a city moving forward, a city on the up, and what we would like to see in terms of improvements. We also gave them evidence and examples of why it’s not only important but a good business decision to improve services between Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham, and the talks were very productive and open between both sides.”
“We’re aware of the recent reports which have been in the media and the concerns expressed by passengers and residents, and although we could not say anything publicly until now, in the background we’ve been continually fighting the city’s corner and we’re delighted with the outcome. To see the current level of service to the capital maintained, and a new hourly train to Birmingham introduced, is a really positive result for our residents and businesses in the city. We couldn’t be happier.”