1. ITV Report

Virgin Trains want more routes in the region

Richard Branson's Virgin Trains hope to introduce new services on the West Coast Mainline Photo: PA

Virgin Trains is to try again to introduce new services on the busy West Coast Main Line.

Last week, the Office of Rail Regulation turned down an application by Virgin to run additional services to Blackpool and Shrewsbury.

The ORR said there was not enough space on the line to run all the extra services, adding that Network Rail was failing to meet punctuality targets on the West Coast Mainline.

Today, Virgin said it was applying to run the extra services from next May in the hope that NR's performance on the line will have improved by then.

Virgin's production director Phil Bearpark said: "The people of Blackpool and Shrewsbury have been absolutely clear about their desire to have a direct train link with London, an ambition we fully support and are working very hard to achieve.

"We have continued to work with NR to ensure that they improve performance. It is now down to them to ensure that they honour their commitments on this and for the ORR to hold them to account."

Virgin was extremely critical of NR and the ORR after the extra-train application was turned down last week and by the decision of the ORR not to penalise NR for poor performance on WCML.

Virgin said: "The ORR has again ducked taking tough action to deal decisively with poor performance by NR. For years, infrastructure failures on the WCML have undermined the ability of Virgin Trains and other operators to give customers the reliable service they should expect.

"NR has failed customers by delivering consistently poor performance over the past year. Now ORR has itself failed customers again by ducking its duty to hold NR to account. That is not acceptable."

The Department for Transport said it was disappointed at the ORR extra-services decision while the NR said it would continue to work to improve punctuality on the WCML.

If successful Virgin will introduce services to Blackpool and Shrewsbury Credit: PA