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InterCity West Coast rail franchise: No need to wait for HS2 to start upgrades to the ‘classic’ network

Published 02 August 2016 by Jamie Wylie

Transform Scotland today outlined our vision to revolutionise rail travel in the between Scotland and England. Our proposals were put forward as part of a response to a consultation run by the Department for Transport on the future of the InterCity West Coast franchise. The recommendations include a call for a new generation of bi-mode trains capable of both tilt and high-speed travel to make much-needed improvements in connectivity on the West Coast Main Line between Scotland and England. To read our response in full, please see here.

Investing in modern electrified trains for services on the West Coast Main Line would bring around a wide range of benefits, including faster services, better connectivity between towns and cities across Scotland and England and a reduction in carbon emissions associated with rail services.

Commenting on the consultation, Paul Tetlaw, Rail Campaigner at Transform Scotland, said:

To cope with a growing market for rail, new trains will be required for travel between Glasgow and London. The present strategy of running diesel trains over long distances on lines designed for electrified routes is not an effective use of infrastructure. Instead, a new generation of trains capable of both tilt and speeds of 140 mph should be sourced, with the current diesel Voyager trains used to serve other locations. This will allow destinations not currently electrified to be served, as well as connecting new destinations. Such a strategy will be an essential element of growing the market and building the business case for HS2 services to Scotland.”


Our consultation response also calls for a number of actions to be taken to improve rail services on the West Coast Main Line, including:

  • A sub four-hour journey time from Glasgow to London with more frequent and faster trains to enable rail to capture a much larger proportion of the rail/air market on this route
  • A wider range of destinations both within Scotland and from Scotland to be served by direct trains and through easy and convenient connections
  • On-train facilities to be overhauled to create more space for luggage, bikes and buggies and to better segment different groups of passengers
  • Stations to become hubs for the local community with high quality facilities and seamless onward travel links
  • Clear and simple fare and timetable information to help grow the overall market for rail
  • Infrastructure improvements to improve line speeds and capacity for freight and passenger trains, and to prepare the route for HS2 classic compatible trains
  • Upgrading of diversionary routes to create a viable alternative during times of planned and unplanned disruption