Manchester Victoria Station, C, PNW

Plans have been unveiled for a London service to and from Manchester Victoria Station. Credit: Place North West / Rory Sheehan

Rail plans unveiled for London to Manchester Victoria service

London Northwestern Railway, operated by West Midlands Trains, is behind the proposals, which could fill some of the void left by the HS2 Northern leg cancellation.

Their plans would see current services between London Euston and Crewe extended through to Manchester Victoria, and services between Stafford and Crewe extended to Manchester Airport.

The operator says this would create additional capacity with the introduction of direct links from Rugeley, Lichfield, Tamworth, and Atherstone in the West Midlands to Manchester and Warrington.

It is hoped the service could be up and running from summer 2026 linking Manchester city centre to London with the operator’s Class 730 electric trains earmarked to handle the journeys.

Each 10-car train would have the capacity to carry more than 1,200 passengers.

If given the green light, London Northwestern Railway says it would work with local operators and Network Rail, potentially tying in with planned upgrades to Manchester Victoria station, the TransPennine route upgrade, and other improvements in the North West.

Ian McConnell, managing director of West Midlands Trains, operator of London Northwestern Railway, said: “This proposal puts passengers at the heart of the railway and is the common sense solution to increase connectivity between the North West and the West Midlands following the cancellation of the northern leg of HS2.

“With platform space at Euston at a premium, the best way to provide new journey opportunities to Manchester is simply to extend existing services, rather than trying to squeeze more trains onto the congested West Coast Main Line.

“Additionally, unlike the Open Access model, the millions of pounds of extra revenue our proposals would generate will be returned to the taxpayer, providing a win-win for rail passengers.

“Just as we have shown with our existing long-distance services to Birmingham and Liverpool, our green and environmentally-friendly new electric trains will provide an affordable alternative to the car and coach, with fares up to 50% cheaper than the main intercity operator.”

Dominic Booth, chief executive officer of WMT’s parent company, Transport UK Group, said: “Our new service proposals represent a significant step forward in enhancing the rail network between Manchester and London.

“By leveraging the new Class 730 electric trains, we will provide greater capacity and comfort for customers travelling to Manchester while also supporting the local economy by creating new job opportunities in the North West. This proposal aligns with our commitment to delivering efficient, sustainable, and customer-focused rail services across the UK.”

The next step will see the London Northwestern Railway formally submit plans to the Office for Rail and Road later this year.

If approved, the services could start from May 2026 once additional train crew have been recruited and trained.

Earlier this year FirstGroup also unveiled plans for a service between London Euston and Manchester Victoria.

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It’s a shame the franchising system has prevented this service being extended from Crewe to Manchester for years because Virgin/Avanti were always going to complain it will take revenue away from their franchise. Now that the revenue from all operating companies under the concessionary Great British Railways system will go direct to the government rather than private companies there is little reason why this service cannot be introduced for passengers benefit.

By Anon

It won’t fill the void of HS2 as it won’t relieve congestion on our heavily congested network. Instead, it will add congestion. But hey, better than nothing.

By EOD

This could be good news for those taking their bikes to London.

By David

Sounds like a plan

By ALL

Shame something similar can’t be done to help relieve the overcrowded, both for people and freight from Liverpool to the south

By George

This doesn’t solve the number one problem which is lack of capacity for more freight trains to use the west coast mainline this was lost as part of the Governments decision to axe HS2.

By Anonymous

not needed, people don’t go to London much anymore, you can have meetings online nowadays

By Anonymous

I just Googled a ‘Class 730 Electric Train’.

Its best described as being ‘fairly basic’ in terms of passenger comfort, but I would still travel down to London on one if the price was right.

By Ram Tailor

@Anonymous 11:12 – if that’s true I’m confused as to why all the trains I’ve been on to London this year have been full (with some even featuring people sitting on the floor), and also as to why it’s £350 for an Anytime Return….

By Chapel St Resident

Re Anonymous at 11.12 am
I’d noticed the M6, M42 and M40 had all be grassed over when I went to London to.

By Peter Chapman

Sounds good. Be interested to hear whether there is rail path capacity between Eccles and Victoria to accommodate it, or whether local services would need to reduce.

By Bob

@Anonymous & the quote people don’t go to London anymore for work. Speak for yourself, loads still do including me. And also people don’t just go to London for work. It is one of the biggest urban tourist destinations on the planet, not to mention huge numbers visiting family and friends or people from London travelling north for the same reasons as above

By EOD

Its an excellent idea and can be incorporated easily into GBR unlike the open access plans. LNR have a very successful one change operation between Liverpool and London that takes a lot of business off Avanti, so this should do extremely well. However, I’d personally like to see it stop additionally at Newton Le Willows station to let St Helens finally re-establish a London connection it last had in the 90s.

By MH

@1112. Ever heard of leisure travel? It’s booming.

By Anonymous

Axing HS2 North, another consequence of bloody Brexit

By Anonymous

Journey would take to long Euston to Crewe takes over 2 hours! It woul be over 3 hours to Manchester.
Just over 2 hrs with Avanti?

By Anonymous

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