Rugby Rail Users Group

The Voice Of Rugby Rail Users


New timetables start on 15 December (posted 07/12/19)

Timetables for both Train Operating Companies which serve Rugby will alter from the principal timetable change date of 15 December.  A summary of the changes is outlined below.
Avanti West Coast
  • The timetable previously operated by Virgin Trains will continue with no major changes for the time being.  Some trains may be retimed by a few minutes.
  • The 18.46 Fridays only train from Euston to Preston, which calls at Rugby at 19.40, will be extended to Blackpool North, arriving there at 22.00.
London Northwestern Railway
  • An additional stopping train each hour will run between Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International.  This will allow other services to be speed up.  Towards Rugby, all LNW trains will run non-stop between Birmingham New Street and Marston Green.  In the other direction, the train leaving Rugby at 18 minutes past the hour will run non-stop between Birmingham International and Birmingham New Street.
  • To improve reliability of services on the Chase line, only one through train per hour between London, Rugby and Rugeley via Birmingham will now operate.  This will be the train which leaves Rugby on the hour.   The other train will instead terminate at Walsall.  A train from Wolverhampton to Birmingham will be extended to Rugeley in its place.
  • There will be timing alterations to some other trains.
  • To further improve reliability, 10 electric trains from Transpennine Express are being transferred to West Midlands Trains.  these will be class 350 electric trains, which already provide the majority of services for London North Western.
A summary of peak time services to both Birmingham and London from Rugby, together with a list of through trains to and from the North West, is available on the Current Rugby timetable page of this website.

New West Coast operator reveals its plans (posted 07.12.19)

First Trenitalia, who take over the franchise for West Coast Main Line services from Virgin Trains on 8 December, have revealed their new trading name and future plans.
The trains will be operated under the name "Avanti West Coast".  Avanti means "Forward" in Italian.  A green and black livery will be used - see picture.
Additional train services will be introduced from December 2022.  These will include an additional train each hour between London and Liverpool.  In total, there will be 263 additional trains each week.  It is not known which, if any, of these will stop at Rugby.  The existing timetable will continue basically unaltered until December 2022.
The diesel Voyager trains will all be withdrawn.  In their place will be 13 new Hitachi 5-car bi-mode (electric / diesel) trains, and 10 7-car electric trains.  The new trains are expected to be similar in appearance to the new Hitachi trains already running on Great Western Railway and LNER.   The Pendolino trains will be refurbished and continue in service.
Rugby station will have new ticket issuing facilities and a first class lounge.
For further details see the First Group press release.

Pendolino in Avanti West Coast livery

                     Pendolino in Avanti West Coast livery

LNW strike action suspended (posted 05/12/19)

The strike action by members of the RMT union, which has been affecting London Northwestern train services on Saturdays, has been suspended.  However, a reduced service will operate this Saturday, 7 December as there is insufficient time to rearrange the schedules.
A normal service will operate on subsequent Saturdays, pending a vote by the RMT membership on a deal agreed by the union's negotiating team.
For further information see the BBC News item.

RRUG response to draft Warwickshire County Council Rail Strategy (posted 14.09.2019)

Rugby Rail Users Group has sent a detailed response to Warwickshire County Council's draft Rail Strategy for the next 15 years.  This states that RRUG is broadly in agreement with the council's proposals, while maintaining the importance of good links to London and Birmingham, plus the continuation of the recently improved services to the North directly via the Trent Valley.  We have also stated we support proposals for a through Coventry - Leicester service which, with good connections at Coventry, would provide improved links between Rugby and the East Midlands.
Our full response to the council's proposals is on our Correspondence page, or you can click here for a direct link. The full draft consultation document is available from the Warwickshire County Council website.

The end of the line for Virgin Trains (posted 14.08.19)

Virgin Trains are set to run their last trains this coming December.  This follows the Department for Transport (DfT) award of the West Coast Partnership franchise to First Trenitalia, a consortium of First Group and Trenitalia (Italian railways).  The West Coast Partnershup will cover the existing West Coast Main line services currently operated by Virgin Trains, and the new services for the embryonic HS2.
Various improvements are promised, including replacement of the diesel Voyager trains with 10 new electric trains and 13 new bi-mode trains.  From December 2022 they intend to increase their Liverpool service to twice hourly on Mondays to Saturdays and provide a Summer only through train to Llandudno.  Gobowen, Liverpool South Parkway and Walsall stations will also be added to the network.  Platform lengthening is likely to be necessary at these locations.
As far as Rugby is concerned, we are promised increased car parking, improved waiting rooms and shelters, plus a first class lounge.  There is also a hint of additional stops at Rugby by some trains.
What effect this will have on train services remains to be seen.  First Group do not have a particularly good reputation with other franchises, and Trenitalia are not the most reliable train operator either.  Time alone will tell, but we suspect several people will mourn the passing of Virgin Trains.
For further details see the DfT announcement and West Coast Partnership web page.

Changes to station bus services (updated16.07.19)

Stagecoach Midlands have announced changes to the bus services which pass Rugby station.  These changes, which will start on Saturday July 20, are as follows:
  • routes D1 and D2 will generally be split in Rugby town centre.  The section of route between Rugby town centre, the rail station and Central Park / Gateway will now be served by new routes 1 and 2, which between them will maintain a 30 minute frequency over this section of route.  A few early morning and late night journeys on route D1 will continue to provide a link between Brownsover and DIRFT, calling at the rail station.
  • route 4, which is the principal link between the town centre and the rail station, will continue to run every 15 minutes as at present, but there will be some changes to intermediate running times to improve reliability.  Times of buses from some stops will therefore be changed by up to 4 minutes.
  • route 63, which has occasional peak time and Sunday journeys to the rail station, will no longer run to the rail station on Mondays to Saturdays. The Sunday service will continue to run to the rail station as at present.
Full details of the changes, including the new timetables, are available from the Stagecoach website.

Major improvements to LNW services now in operation (updated 04.07.19)

Major improvements have been to London Northwestern train services from the May timetable change and are now in force  These are the improvements postponed from the December timetable change, and the effects on Rugby rail users are summarised as follows:.
  • The Trent Valley line service now runs direct from Stafford to Crewe, giving reduced journey times to that destination.  Connections for Stoke will be available at Stafford.
  • Nearly all services which currently terminate at Birmingham New Street are extended to either the Cannock line to Rugeley, or Liverpool Lime Street via Crewe, or Crewe via Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent.  This gives through trains to all these destinations from Rugby, although in some cases it will still be quicker to change trains and travel part way by Virgin Trains.
  • Some stopping services to London Euston have reduced journey times due to the reduction in layover time at Northampton
  • The existing gaps in the three train per hour service to / from Birmingham will be abolished, e.g. the 16.14 from Birmingham will now run through to Rugby and Northampton.
  • The xx.48 from Rugby to Birmingham has been retimed to depart at xx.00 and is no longer be overtaken at Coventry by the following Virgin train.
  • Sunday services on the London - Rugby - Birmingham line have incrreased to three per hour after 12.00.
In addition, the Leamington to Coventry shuttle service has been linked with the Coventry to Nuneaton shuttle to provide a through service on weekdays.  There is now a Sunday service between Leamington and Coventry, with Kenilworth getting its first Sunday trains.  Throughout the week, two car trains are expected to operate in place of the previous single car trains.
Further details are shown on the West Midlands Trains website.  Summaries of the revised peak time services to Birmingham and London are shown on the Current Rugby timetable page.

Stagecoach in legal action over pensions row (posted 09.05.19)

Stagecoach, which owns a part share in Virgin Trains West Coast, is taking legal action against the Department of Transport (DfT).  This is to challenge the DfT's decision that Train Operaing Companies should bear the financial responsibility for the railway pension fund.
While this action is principally about the DfT disqualifying Stagecoach from bidding for the East Midlands franchise, if its legal challenge is successful this could also affect the DfT's decision to disqualify Stagecoach from its bid for the West Coast Partnership franchise, which as it stands would see the end of Virgin Trains as a train operator.
For further details see the BBC News item.

West Midlands Trains business update (posted 15.03.19)

The latest Business Update from West Midlands Trains is available here.
It includes details of the May timetable improvements and other developments, including the new trains which are on order.

Blackpool services a boost for Rugby (posted 16.02.19)

The introduction last May of direct train services between Rugby and Blackpool have seen a 67% increase in train travel between the two towns.  This is according to a Virgin trains press release.
It is gratifying to see that all RRUG's hard work to restore through services between Rugby and North West England have paid off and resulted in such an increase in traffic.  For a further details of these services see the North West through trains summary.

Proposed puffin crossing in Murray Road - RRUG response (posted 11.01.19)

The Highways department of Warwickshire County Council have proposed installing a pelican crossing in Murray Road close to the station.  This will involved removing the existing "raised table" and refuge and moving the bus stops.  A plan of the proposal is available here.
This proposal would result in longer wlaks for rail travellers between the station and the southbound bus stop in Murray Road, and also between the station and car park no. 2.  As a result, RRUG has sent objections on these lines to Warwickshire County Council.  A copy of this letter is available here.

Virgin Trains scraps Friday afternoon off-peak restrictions (posted 01.11.18)

Virgin Trains have announced that off-peak restrictions on Friday afternoon departures from London Euston are being withdrawn with effect from tomorrow, Friday 2nd November.  This means that if you have an off-peak ticket you will be able to return from London at any time after the morning peak on Fridays.
This restriction has been withdrawn following a shift in travel patterns whereby fewer people are now travelling on Fridays.  Regular travellers will know it had created a "false peak" whereby trains immediately after the peak restrictions ended were always very crowded.  For Rugby passengers this was particularly true with the 19.03 ex Euston.  A trial during the Summer showed the overcrowding on these after-peak services was substantially reduced, with loadings being spread more evenly throughout the evening.
This arrangement has now been made permanent.  For further details, including a summary of the effect on train loadings, see the Virgin Trains website.