Kidsgrove and Alsager to lose direct rail link to London

kidsgrove-station-april-2015adKids grove and Alsager stations are set to lose the direct trains service to London Euston as a rail franchise is put out to tender. The Crewe to Euston service currently loops east to call at Alsager, Kidsgrove, Stone and Stoke but the new service will run straight from Crewe to Stafford and on to London Euston – it won’t call at these stations. This is so that longer trains can be used to ease crowding on the service. The existing service between Crewe and Euston is only operated by four carriage trains so that it can stop at these stations due to short platforms and other infrastructure constraints such as level crossings, signals and rail junctions at these stations. Running directly between Crewe and Stafford will allow eight carriage trains to be used non stop (and up to 12 carriages to cater for increasing usage) to accomodate demand and manage crowding. A consultation was done to prepare the routes for tender. Analysis of ticket sales data indicates that around 70 passengers a day make the direct journey between Alsager, Kidsgrove or Stone to London and around 140 passengers travel between these stations daily. The consultation revealed of the 555 individuals who responded to questions about this route 63% were in favour of changing the route to be more direct between Crewe and Stafford, but that 90% of users from the Stoke area wanted to keep the direct link. Also an 83 name petition in support of keeping the service was submitted from Alsager. The consultation notes that “The strength of feeling about the benefits of a direct link to London for Alsager, Kidsgrove and Stone is understood. However, having carefully analysed the consultation responses, user data and the benefits and disadvantages of both options, we have decided to change the route of the existing London to Crewe service.” As a result to a new route has been specified that all services between Crewe and Euston will run directly between Stafford and Crewe throuout the day starting in December 2018. A new direct service will be provided to Birmingham New Street on the Stoke-on-Trent route giving Kidsgrove, Alsager and Stone regularly hourly services throughout the day, including during the morning and evening peaks where ther are long gaps at present. In addition improved evening and Sunday services will be provided on the Stoke line. The new operator is due to take over the franchise in October 2017 with the contract awarded to the successful bidder in June 2017. The new franchise will run for 8 ½ years until March 2026.

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