Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Firm cuts off-peak rail services

Wrexham station
The firm is hoping to increase its weekend services

A train company running a direct link between Wrexham and London is cutting the number of week day services.

Less than a year after its service was launched, Wrexham and Shropshire blamed the recession and said the decision reflected customer travel patterns.

It said the "least popular" 1523 and 1723 Wrexham to Marylebone and the 1017 and 1217 from London had been stopped.

Stations in Shropshire, Tame Bridge Parkway in the West Midlands and Banbury, Oxfordshire will be affected.

However the firm said weekend services were unaffected.

The cuts in services mean people travelling from Wrexham General will have to choose from three trains in each direction on weekdays.

We know that there will be some customers that are inconvenienced, and we hugely regret that
Andy Hamilton, Wrexham and Shropshire

Andy Hamilton, Wrexham and Shropshire's managing director, said: "We will no longer be running some of our least popular off-peak weekday services from this coming Monday.

"We run services without government subsidy and have to respond to customer demand, especially in the context of a recession.

"We have seen very strong demand on some of our trains and at weekends, and while we are removing some off-peak weekday trains, we are looking at options for increasing weekend services, especially on Sundays.

"We will continue to offer our passengers the same value-for-money fares and great service."

Location map
The service links Shropshire, the West Midlands and Oxfordshire

The company said it would contact passengers, where possible, who had booked in advance to arrange alternative travel or a full refund.

Mr Hamilton added: "We know that there will be some customers that are inconvenienced, and we hugely regret that.

"We are passionately committed to the Wrexham & Shropshire business, and are hoping that this is a temporary measure.

"We are already in discussions with Network Rail to create extra slots to run additional trains in time for an upturn in the economy."

While two services will be cut from Wrexham, commuters at Shrewsbury, Shropshire, will lose just one - two north of Shrewsbury - in each direction on weekdays.

The 1217 from London will now terminate in Shrewsbury and the cancelled 1523 from Wrexham will instead now depart from Shrewsbury at 1607.

The Wrexham to London trains, via Shropshire, were launched in April 2008 - the first time in 41 years that such a service had been offered.

At the time, the company said it was "confident that we will generate a strong market for this service", based on its competitive prices and experience.

The opening ceremony was attended by Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones and Wrexham MP Ian Lucas.


Mr Lucas said: "This is disappointing news but I understand the company's thinking on the matter.

"I know that they are continuing to invest locally - I was at the opening of the new café at the station only last week - and I remain optimistic about the development of rail services for the town.

"The way the company are intending to make these changes is less likely to cause disruption to Wrexham passengers and the best resolution of the current situation.

"What remains important is that people continue to use this hard-won service."

The deputy first minister said: "I'm disappointed at this interim suspension of services and hope it will soon be possible for the company to restore its full timetable."

Mr Jones said the company planned to be able to reinstate the services during busy periods and he understood it would also maintain current employment levels.

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