On Sunday, Avanti West Coast will take over the West Coast Main Line route between London Euston to Glasgow (and Intercity points in-between). Here is a quick Q and A of the information and changes we know will happen on Sunday/Monday onwards.
Wait. Virgin Trains won’t be a thing?
After 22 years in the industry, Virgin Trains West Coast (own by Virgin Group and Stagecoach), will no longer operate routes along the West Coast Main Line. They had the time of their life. Allegedly.
Who is taking over?
Avanti West Coast will be the new operator. They are a partnership of First Group (who operate the Great Western Railway franchise, the South West Railway franchise and Hull Trains) and Trenitalia (who operate the “C2C” Essex Thames-side franchise). Avanti West Coast won the Franchise to operate the West Coast Main Line
When are they taking over?
8th December 2019 is the date they take over the services. The press launch will be a day later. And no, I have..n’t got an invite.
Have they got a web site?
Yes – https://www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/. It’s a bit barren at present though. Expect it to pad out with the usual features you’d expect from Sunday onwards.
Will my Advanced Purchased Ticket Valid?
I’ve seen this question a lot – and the simple answer is if the ticket is issued by Virgin Trains, the ticket will be honoured, subject to the terms and conditions it was issued under. Quoting from their Twitter feed:
— Avanti West Coast (@avantiwestcoast) November 29, 2019
Where will they operate?
Avanti West Coast will operate the old Virgin West Coast Route. As such, I’ll be listing principle destinations from London Euston
- Milton Keynes Central
- Birmingham New Street
- Liverpool Lime Street
- Manchester Piccadilly
- The Lake District
(Not all destinations listed or in the right order).
Are they changing the timetable and services?
As always, check with National Rail Enquiries before you travel to ensure your service is running. As we’re heading to the December timetable change (on the 15th December), there will be a few services affected soon. Check at https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/service_disruptions/48.aspx
However, in the longer term, they are planning to boost services to Liverpool, A daily service to Walsall, A direct service to Llandudno and a variety of other improvements as time goes on
What about the trains?
The Pendolinos(Class 390) trains will remain with the company as will the SuperVoyagers (Class 221) to start with. Avanti West Coast is looking at introducing two new fleets to replace the SuperVoyager trains 13 Bi-Mode Trains to serve routes that have significant Diesel operation (such as the North Wales Coast Line) and 10 Electric Trains to expand operations with.
According to a release by FirstGroup, these will be 10 seven-car electric trains and 13 five-car bi-mode trains by Hitachi (based from the InterCity Express Train design from the looks of the postage-stamp image supplied)
The new trains are expected to be introduced in 2022.
Meanwhile, both the Pendolinos and SuperVoyager trains will be refurbished.
What colour will the trains be?
Greeny colour with an orange triangle as a logo.
A lot of the Virgin Fleet has been “debranded” already. Subject to some vinyls appearing, trains should be re-branded soon enough.
What about HS2?
High Speed 2 is still in the hands of the politicians. Whilst we’re in General Election territory – anything is possible.
However, the expectation is if HS2 is built, Avanti West Coast will operate services the HS2 line once/if it opens.
What about fares?
The Competition and Markets Authority has accepted a proposal of fare capping between Preston and Scotland as FirstGroup owned rail companies will be one of the only ways to go between these areas (The other being with TransPenine Express, who is operated by FirstGroup).
Meanwhile, don’t fear. The annual price rises in line with inflation will go through – as it always does. Avanti West Coast is promising to simplify fares across its network.
We’ll see on that front.
Got any more questions? Fire them down below and I’ll try and hunt for answers to them
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