By Eli Yale
As Virgin trains loses its west coast rail franchise, Wrexham faces losing another link to London. The winning bid has been criticised for being based on unrealistic figures.
Richard Branson has spent the day raging against his loss but many in Wrexham will remember his companies role in ending a much loved local rail service.
Wrexham and Shropshire railways was a local success story to make all Wrexham people proud. It regularly received the highest satisfaction scores for a rail company from its users and provided a unique service envied by many throughout the UK.
The service provided by Wrexham and Shropshire railways was highly praised by the press and by rail enthusiasts alike as providing a modern and high standard of service that was not provided by any other rail service.
This small local company started as there was no service from Wrexham to London. Through this niche Wrexham and Shropshire employed fifty five people and positively raised the profile of our town.
A year after Wrexham and Shropshire started to run the route, Virgin Trains started to run more direct and faster trains to London from Wrexham. This was considered by many including the Guardian newspaper as Virgin operating a ‘spoiler route’ to try and drive a rival out of business. Wrexham and Shropshire was also hampered by being forced by Virgins monopoly rights to use secondary lines.
This was a contest of ‘David and Goliath’ proportions but this time Goliath fought dirty and won. So Richard Branson can throw a tantrum about the unfairness of losing his franchise to a dubious bid but many people in Wrexham will not feel too badly for him.