It is anticipated that WSMR services could begin as early as 2025, with the operation expected to create around 50 new jobs, with roles mostly based in North Wales and the Midlands.  -  Photo: Alstom

It is anticipated that WSMR services could begin as early as 2025, with the operation expected to create around 50 new jobs, with roles mostly based in North Wales and the Midlands.

Photo: Alstom

For the first time, Alstom plans to operate a new passenger rail service across England and Wales. Working in partnership with consultancy SLC Rail, the open access operation will be known as Wrexham, Shropshire, and Midlands Railway (WSMR).

WSMR is seeking to introduce direct connectivity to and from North Wales, Shropshire, the Midlands, and London that doesn’t exist today, linking growing communities and businesses, and making rail travel more convenient, enjoyable, and affordable.

WSMR Services

WSMR offers passengers in Wrexham, Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Walsall, and Coleshill a direct link with the capital, alongside Darlaston once its new station opens.

Meanwhile, journey times between Shrewsbury and Walsall will be dramatically reduced from the current alternative.

It is anticipated that WSMR services could begin as early as 2025, with the operation expected to create around 50 new jobs, with roles mostly based in North Wales and the Midlands.

“As the country’s leading supplier of rolling stock and train services, it makes perfect sense that we now move into operating our own fleet to serve passengers directly,” said Nick Crossfield, managing director, UK and Ireland, at Alstom. “Having been part of the fabric of UK rail for two centuries, we’re excited to enter this new era as an open access operator,”

How WSMR Will Look

The proposal envisages a service of five trains per day in each direction Monday to Saturday, with four traveling both ways on Sundays. Trains will stop at Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Telford Central, Wolverhampton, Darlaston, Walsall, Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton, and Milton Keynes on their journey between Wrexham General and London Euston.

WSMR estimates it would serve a core geographic area of around 1.5 million people outside London, a population which is set to grow by 16% over the next decade.

“From the Welsh borders to the Midlands, our routes will forge new connections, linking overlooked regions of England and Wales with direct services to and from London,” said Ian Walters, managing director at Midlands-based SLC Rail. “Our proposal will support sustainable housing growth, nurture communities, and unite business, leisure, and commerce along the corridor. This will enhance economies and bring a positive impact to both communities and the environment.”

In the West Midlands, WSMR trains will avoid Birmingham — one of the most complex and congested parts of the British rail network — by utilizing the Sutton Park line, which is currently only used for freight services. This would enable Wolverhampton and Walsall to serve Nuneaton directly for the first time, offering new travel options across the West Midlands, North Warwickshire, and beyond.

As an open access operator, WSMR is a wholly commercial operation, which remains separate from the government's franchised rail operations. WSMR is set to submit a formal application to add its services to the UK network to the Office of Rail and Road.

Details regarding WSMR’s fleet, brand, and service provision will be announced at a later date.

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