A ceremony to mark the unveiling of a new high-speed rail link between Liverpool and London was delayed for two hours on Monday after a blockage on the line.
The pendolino service should cut journey times by about one hour
Sir Richard Branson was among those delayed in arriving at the city's Lime Street station to unveil the new Virgin Trains City of Liverpool Pendolino vehicle.
The blockage was caused by one of what Sir Richard described as the "clapped out" engines which are still running on the Virgin Trains network.
He insisted by the autumn of 2004 such delays would be a thing of the past.
The new service aims to cut almost an hour off the journey time between Liverpool and London
Sir Richard said: "By this time next year all the old clapped out trains will have gone to the knackers yard and it will be all new high speed Pendolino trains.
"The speed journeys to London, instead of being three hours 20 [minutes], four hours 20, five hours 20, whatever it is today, will be reduced to two hours 20."
He said the new improved transport links would play their part in helping make the Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008 a success.
The new trains should be in service from September 2004.