We were particularly pleased to see that Stagecoach-owned South West Trains put a little humour into travel on Valentine’s Day by renaming some of its stations. London Waterloo became London Waterlove, for example. The changes to station names were suggested by both staff and passengers and was a real example of what can be done to make the rail journey more enjoyable. Well done to the South West Trains team.
North of the River Thames at the London Euston HQ of Virgin Trains the feelgood factor created in December when through trains from Shrewsbury to London were re-introduced was lost by a problem with a pocket timetable. Passengers, Stakeholders and Politicians were rightfully angry when the Shropshire town of Wellington was left off the new pocket timetables. Virgin said that there wasn’t room on the timetable, which could only cover three stations. Now it has produced a special timetable just for passengers using its services at Wellington and handed out cupcakes to passengers and the Mayor of Wellington.
After the stop-off was initially missed out and Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard wrote to Virgin Trains to rectify the omission.
Richard Stanton, spokesman for Virgin Trains, said the error was “embarrassing” for the company but hoped train users in Wellington had accepted their apology.
He said: “We wanted to think of a way to make up for missing Wellington off the timetable.
“Wellington is an important part of the rail link and we are looking forward to meeting some new faces on our trains.
The Virgin link to London is follws a hard-fought campaign backed by the local newspaper Shropshire Star and the train from Shrewsbury also stops at Telford and Wellington before running to London Euston via Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
The Mayor of Wellington, Karen Tomlinson, told the Shropshire Star: “We had many complaints about the first timetable but Virgin has made a great effort to sort this situation out. The cupcakes were delicious, we couldn’t have asked for a better response from them.”
Ross Vickers, chairman of Wellington Civic Society, added: “This is fantastic and we fully accept Virgin Trains’ apology. The new timetable looks great and the free cupcakes were a fantastic gesture.”
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.