London and Shropshire direct train could return

Business leaders in Shropshire have welcomed the possible restoration of a direct rail link from Shropshire to London.

FirstGroup, which has been awarded the West Coast Mainline franchise, said it would seek to run a service from 2016.

Richard Sheehan, of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was fantastic the county could potentially get its rail link back.

A previous rail link to the capital stopped operating in January 2011.

FirstGroup, under the name First West Coast Limited, will take over the franchise from 9 December and is due to operate the service until 2026.

'Listened to the public'

As part of its bid it said it would initially operate the timetable it inherits, but was seeking to introduce a number of new services including a London Euston to Blackpool service from 2013 and, from 2016, services from London to Telford Central, Shrewsbury and Bolton.

Mr Sheehan said: "It is fantastic to hear potentially we will have this service back and the travel bosses have actually listened to the voice of business and the voice of the public."

Kuldip Sahota, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said the council was "obviously delighted" but would like to to see them introduced sooner than 2016.

He said the council would continue to lobby for that.

The last rail link to London was operated by the Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway.

Since it stopped, MPs and business leaders have been lobbying for a link to be reinstated.

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