28,000 new seats on West Coast Main Line

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THE city’s MPs have welcomed the announcement that 28,000 new seats will be made available each day on the West Coast Main Line from April next year.

MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart have been very vocal in calling for increased capacity on this busy route and made this case in their joint submission to the recent consultation on the franchise.

Current franchise holders, West Coast Trains Limited and Virgin Rail Group, have received approval to extend their operations on the route from 1 April 2012 until the start of the new franchise in December 2012.

Over the period of this extension, three new 600-seat Pendolino trains will be added to the line. This is in addition to the new Pendolino which entered service in July this year.

Also, 31 existing Pendolinos will be lengthened from 9 to 11 carriages, increasing the number of standard class seats on each train by almost 50 per cent. In all, 106 new carriages are being introduced on the route making 28,000 extra seats available each day, an increase of 25 per cent.

Mr Stewart, who sits on the Transport Select Committee, said: “I welcome this announcement given the severe capacity constraints on the route. Mark and I will be lobbying Virgin Rail Group to ensure that Milton Keynes gets its fair share of this extra capacity”.

His Milton Keynes North counterpart, Mr Lancaster added: “I am pleased that the congestion on the West Coast Mainline is being taken seriously by Virgin Trains and I hope that further improvements can be made for passengers from Milton Keynes.”