Midlanders who tackled Mount Everest

It's 60 years since the conquest of Mount Everest, it's synonymous with Sir Edmund Hillary, but Midlanders first attempted it.

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Runners to descend on Shrewsbury for Half Marathon

Thousands to race in Shrewsbury Half Marathon
Thousands to race in Shrewsbury Half Marathon Credit: ITV News Central

Organisers of the Shrewsbury Half Marathon say improvements to the course will make this year's event even better than last.

Almost 3,000 runners signed up last year and they raised more than £30,000 for charity.

The event will start at the Shropshire Agricultural Showground and will continue through the town centre, the Longden Coleham estate and the Quarry.

Labour respond to West Coast Main Line contract

This is the latest chapter in the botched West Coast franchise process, which has left passengers and taxpayers paying the price for Government incompetence. Under this out-of-touch Government, fares have risen 20 per cent on average since 2010 adding to the cost-of-living crisis.

The West Coast’s long-suffering passengers will welcome £35m of service improvements, but this franchise process has already cost taxpayers at least £50m directly and hundreds of millions of pounds more through delays to investment on the line and other franchise competitions.”

– Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary
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RMT: Virgin have bullied themselves into a monopoly

Transport unions have hit out at Virgins Trains after securing an extension deal to its West Coast Main Line franchise.

Read: Virgin wins rail deal extension to run West Coast service

The leader of the TSSA rail union said Virgin Trains is "being rewarded for failure on the West Coast line" and argued that publicly-owned franchises "provide better value to both taxpayers and passengers".

Transport unions have hit out at Virgins Trains after securing an extension deal to its West Coast Main Line franchise.
Transport unions have hit out at Virgins Trains after securing an extension deal to its West Coast Main Line franchise. Credit: PA

"Ministers continue to ignore the lesson that publicly-owned East Coast has returned far more cash to the Treasury in the past five years than Virgin," he said.

Mick Cash, from the RMT union, has said Virgin Trains have "bullied themselves into a monopoly provider position" by "ignoring the public sector option".

"Rail franchising is a one-way ticket to the bank for greedy shareholders as these companies promise the earth and deliver just the bare bones in the interest of profit," he said.

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Richard Branson: Great news for Virgin Trains

Founder of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson has taken to Twitter to welcome the "great news" of Virgin Trains securing an extension deal to its West Coast Main Line franchise.

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Great news @virgintrains customers & staff: new DfT deal will mean free wifi, 1000s more seats, new direct services http://t.co/QQT0lfwfG5

Under the extension deal, West Coast services will continue until March 2017 and a number of "improvements" including increased capacity, new services and "superfast Wifi" will be unveiled.

Read: Virgin Trains plan new services under extension deal

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Virgin says new deal 'puts problems of 2012 behind us'

We’re delighted to have reached a deal after some tough negotiations with the DfT. It puts the problems of 2012 firmly behind us, and shows the clear benefits of a well-run franchise system.

This deal is great news for passengers and taxpayers, with significant benefits for our customers as well as a big increase in the money we pay to government..

We know WiFi is high on our customers’ priorities and we’re delighted that we’re going to be able to offer them free and super-fast WiFi. Together with thousands of extra seats and plans for new services, this deal will mean big improvements for millions of Virgin Trains passengers.”

– Patrick McCall, Virgin Trains Executive Co-Chairman
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Virgin Trains plan new services under extension deal

Under the extension deal for Virgin Trains to continue running a West Coast service until March 2017, the operator plans for Shrewsbury to have two services in each direction Monday to Saturday and one service in each direction on Sunday.

Blackpool North is also expected to have one service in each direction Monday to Friday.

The company has committed to working with Network Rail on improving journey times.
The company has committed to working with Network Rail on improving journey times. Credit: PA

The company has also committed to working with Network Rail on improving journey times, including the remodeling of Carstairs junction in South Lancashire.

Virgin Trains executive chairman Patrick McCall said: "We're delighted to have reached a deal after some tough negotiations with the Department of Transport.

"It puts the problems of 2012 firmly behind us, and shows the clear benefits of a well-run franchise system."

Virgin's West Coast mainline deal 'will bring £35 million worth of benefits'

The Department for Transport has revealed a new deal for Virgin rail services on the West Coast Main Line will bring £35 million worth of benefits for passengers.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced today it will deliver a direct line from Shrewsbury to London, provide thousands more seats and free wifi.

The contract will run for two years and nine months and see the train operator continue to provide passenger journeys between London, Scotland and Wales as the government continues with its multi-billion pound investment to improve and maintain the railways.

The benefits include:

  • 21 first-class carriages converted to standard class, delivering 5,500 extra standard seats per day across the network;
  • free wifi at stations and improved coverage across the entire fleet;
  • more than £20 million invested to modernise and enhance stations, including improving waiting rooms, seats and shelters;
  • £2.5 million to improve the interiors of the Pendolino train fleet, as well as £2.75 million spent on improving catering facilities;
  • improved station cleanliness and accessibility;
  • new targets for passenger satisfaction, train punctuality and cleanliness;
  • plans developed to increase car parking at Carlisle, Lancaster and Stafford.

Direct rail service to run from Shrewsbury to London

Virgin Trains Photo
Virgin Trains Photo Credit: PA

Direct rail services from Shrewsbury to London are being brought back.

It's been announced after Virgin Trains had their contract extended on the West Coast mainline franchise until 2017.

Virgin Trains previously lost out to FirstGroup in the battle for a new 13-year West Coast franchise, but the process was scrapped by the Department for Transport due to errors in the bidding process.

It resulted in a temporary deal allowing Virgin to run the West Coast service until November.

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