West Coast Main Line: Wikis


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West Coast Main Line

The WCML running alongside the M1 motorway.
Type Intercity rail Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
North West England
South East England
West Midlands
Termini London Euston
51°31′43″N 0°08′07″W / 51.5285°N 0.1353°W / 51.5285; -0.1353 (London terminus)
Glasgow Central
55°51′31″N 4°15′28″W / 55.8585°N 4.2579°W / 55.8585; -4.2579 (Scottish terminus)
Stations 51
Owner Network Rail
Virgin Trains
London Midland
First TransPennine Express
Northern Rail
Arriva Trains Wales
Wrexham and Shropshire
First ScotRail
DB Schenker Rail (UK)
Freightliner Ltd
Freightliner Heavy Haul Ltd
Direct Rail Services Ltd (DRS)
Rolling stock Class 390 "Pendolino"
Class 350 "Desiro"
Class 321
Class 221 "Super Voyager"
Class 220 "Voyager"
Class 185 "Desiro"
Line length 641.6 km (399 mi) [1]
No. of tracks Two-Four
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Electrification 25kV 50hz AC
Operating speed 125 mph (201 km/h) maximum [2]

The West Coast Main Line (WCML)[3] is a busy mixed-traffic railway route in the United Kingdom. It provides fast, long-distance Intercity passenger services between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and southern Scotland.

Central to the WCML is its 641.6-kilometre (399 mi) long core section between London Euston and Glasgow Central [4] with principal InterCity stations at Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Nuneaton, Stafford, Crewe, Warrington, Wigan, Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme, Penrith, Carlisle and Motherwell. Strictly (and by definition), this section alone is the West Coast Main Line,[5] but the term now extends to include a complex system of branches and divergences serving the other major towns and cities of Northampton, Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Macclesfield, Stockport, Manchester, Runcorn, Liverpool and Edinburgh.[6]

In addition, several sections of the WCML form part of the suburban railway systems in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, with many more smaller commuter stations, as well as providing a number of links to rural towns and villages.

The WCML is a strategic European route and has been designated a priority Trans-European Networks (TENS) route. It is the principal rail freight corridor linking the European mainland (via the Channel Tunnel) through London and south-east England to the West Midlands, north-west England and Scotland, and is one of the busiest freight routes in Europe.



Early history

The line was built between the 1830s and the 1870s, as a number of separate railways, the first being the Grand Junction Railway (Warrington-Birmingham) then the London and Birmingham Railway, both completed in the 1830s. These lines, together with the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the North Union Railway, the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway and the Manchester and Birmingham Railway amalgamated their operations in 1846 to form the London and North Western Railway (LNWR). North of Carlisle, the Caledonian Railway remained independent and opened its main line to Beattock in September 1847, to Edinburgh in February 1848 and to Glasgow in November 1849. One important section, the North Staffordshire Railway, which opened in 1848 from Macclesfield (connecting with the LNWR from Manchester) via Stoke-on-Trent to Norton Bridge and Colwich, also remained independent until the forced amalgamations of 1923.

Partly to appease the concerns and opposition of landowners along the route, in places some railway lines were built so that they avoided large estates and rural towns, and to reduce construction costs the railways followed natural contours, resulting in many curves and bends. The WCML also passes through some of the more hilly areas of the British mainland, such as the Chilterns (Tring cutting), the Watford Gap and Northampton uplands followed by the Trent Valley, the mountains of Cumbria with a summit at Shap, and Beattock Summit in the Leadhills area of southern Lanarkshire. This has left a legacy of lower maximum speeds on the line compared to the East Coast Main Line (ECML) route, and the principal solution to the problem has been the adoption of tilting trains, formerly British Rail's ill-fated APT, and latterly the Class 390 Pendolino trains constructed by Alstom and introduced by Virgin in 2003. A 'conventional' attempt to raise line speeds as part of the InterCity 250 upgrade in the 1990s would have relaxed maximum cant levels on curves and seen some track realignments; this scheme faltered for lack of funding in the economic climate of the time.

The route to Scotland was marketed by the LNWR as 'The Premier Line' but operations were complicated by incompatible braking systems, since the LNWR used the vacuum brake and the Caledonian used the Westinghouse air brake. Through trains were therefore of necessity composed of dual-braked and jointly-owned "West Coast Joint Stock" (so named). Following amalgamation on 1 January 1923, it became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) and the vacuum brake quickly became standard. In 1947, following nationalisation, it came under control of British Railways' London Midland and Scottish Regions, when the term "West Coast Main Line" officially came into use. However, it is something of a misnomer given that the line only physically runs along the west coast on a brief section overlooking Morecambe Bay between Lancaster and Carnforth for barely half a mile.

The WCML is not a single railway; rather it can be thought of as a network of routes which diverge and rejoin the central core between London and Glasgow. The route from Rugby to Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Stafford was the original main line until the shorter line was built via the Trent Valley. South of Rugby there is a loop that serves Northampton, and there is also a branch north of Crewe to Liverpool which is notable since Weaver Junction on this branch is the oldest flyover-type junction in use. Among the other diversions are loops that branch off to serve Manchester, one from Colwich Junction in the Trent Valley south of Stafford via Stoke-on-Trent, one north of Stafford also via Stoke-on-Trent, and one via Crewe and Wilmslow. The Windsor Link north-south junction line in Manchester, built by British Rail in 1988, has made possible a through service via Bolton back to the main line at Preston. A further branch at Carstairs links Edinburgh to the WCML, giving it a direct connection to the East Coast route.

Modernisation by British Rail

A Class 87 with a train of Mark 3 coaches on the WCML in Warwickshire

The line was modernised and electrified in stages between 1959 and 1974 - initial electrification was in 1959 between Crewe and Manchester and Liverpool, with the rest of the southern section of the line following in stages to 1967;[7] the line from Weaver Junction (where the route to Liverpool diverges) to Glasgow was electrified in 1974.[8] In this era, a policy of "no diesels under the wires" meant that engines had to be changed (from steam, and later from diesel, to electric traction) at busy change-over stations like Birmingham New Street, Crewe and Preston.[citation needed] Along with electrification came the gradual introduction of modern, air conditioned coaches such as the Mark 2 and following the northern electrification scheme's completion in 1974, the fully integral Mark 3 design. These vehicles remained the mainstay of the WCML's express services through until the early 2000s.

The modernisation also saw the demolition and redevelopment of several of the key stations on the line: BR was keen to symbolise the coming of the "electric age" by replacing the Victorian-era buildings with new structures built from glass and concrete. Notable examples were Birmingham New Street, Stafford, Coventry and London Euston. To enable the latter, the famous Doric Arch portal into the original Philip Hardwick-designed terminus was demolished in 1962 amid much public outcry.[citation needed] Recently, plans have been mooted to completely rebuild both New Street and Euston stations.

Electrification of the Edinburgh branch was carried out in the late 1980s as part of the ECML electrification project. The Preston-Manchester (via Bolton) and Crewe-Holyhead branches remain unelectrified.

Modernisation culminated in the adoption of air brakes for locomotive-hauled express trains. Also under British Rail, freight train operations and practices changed drastically resulting in the virtual elimination of the traditional slow-moving and generally unbraked pick-up goods train and the introduction of faster-moving point-to-point trainload operations using air-braked vehicles.

The running of express passenger services on the WCML came under the Inter-City brand in the late 1960s, which before privatisation in 1996 was known as "InterCity West Coast". "InterCity CrossCountry", using the West Midlands sections of the WCML, was also greatly developed with the introduction of HST units transferred from the ECML after the latter's electrification.

Modernisation brought great improvements, not least in speed and frequency, to many WCML services but there have been some losses over the years. Locations and lines served by through trains or through coaches from London in 1947 but no longer so served include: Windermere; Barrow-in-Furness, Whitehaven and Workington; Huddersfield and Halifax (via Stockport); Blackpool; Colne (via Stockport); Morecambe and Heysham; Southport (via Edge Hill); and Stranraer Harbour. Notable also is the loss of through service from Liverpool to Scotland.

Modernisation by Network Rail

The WCML running alongside the M1 motorway at Watford Gap in Northamptonshire
A Virgin Pendolino and EWS Class 66 freight train on the WCML

By the dawn of the 1990s, it was clear that further modernisation was required. Initially, this took the form of the InterCity 250 project which would have seen the introduction of new rolling stock derived from that developed for the East Coast electrification introduced alongside a wholesale refurbishment of the WCML itself. But then the privatisation of BR intervened, which saw Virgin Trains win the franchise in 1996 for the running of long distance express services on the line. The bold modernisation plan unveiled by Virgin and the new infrastructure owner Railtrack would see the upgrade and renewal of the line to allow the use of tilting Pendolino trains with a maximum line speed of 140 mph (225 km/h), in place of the previous maximum of 110 mph (177 km/h). Railtrack estimated that this upgrade would cost £2bn, be ready by 2005, and cut journey times London to Birmingham to 1hr (since September 2004, 1hr 21mins) and 1hr 45mins London to Manchester.

However, Railtrack had not assessed the technical viability of moving block signalling prior to promising the speed increase to Virgin and the Government. No one had attempted to implement moving block on a line as complex as the WCML anywhere in the world, and it soon became apparent to engineers that the technology was not mature enough to be used on the line. The bankruptcy of Railtrack in 2001 and its replacement by Network Rail following the Hatfield crash brought a reappraisal of the plans whilst the original cost of the upgrade soared. Despite early fears that cost overruns on the project would push the final price tag to £13bn, reappraisal of the plans has brought the cost down to between £8bn and £10bn, ready by 2008 with a maximum speed for tilting trains of a more modest 125 mph (201 km/h). Services from Liverpool to the South West and the South Coast were withdrawn by Virgin in September 2003.

The first phase of the upgrade, south of Manchester, opened on 27 September 2004 with London to Birmingham journey times of 1hr 21mins and London to Manchester 2 hours 6 minutes. The final phase of introducing 125 mph (201 km/h) running along most of the entire length of the line was announced as opening on 12 December 2005, bringing the fastest journey from London to Glasgow to 4 hours 25 mins (down from 5hrs 10mins)[9] although considerable work such as the quadrupling of the track in the Trent Valley, upgrading the slow lines, the second phase of remodelling Nuneaton, and the remodelling of Stafford, Rugby, Milton Keynes and Coventry stations were the last stages of the project to be completed in late 2008. The upgrading of the Crewe to Manchester line via Wilmslow was completed in Summer 2006.

In September 2006, a new speed record was set on the WCML — a Pendolino train completed the 401-mile (645 km) Glasgow Central — London Euston run in a record 3 hours 55 minutes, beating the APT's record of 4 hours 15 minutes, although the APT still holds the overall record on the northbound run.

December 2008 saw the final completion of the decade-long modernisation project.[10] This allowed the introduction of Virgin's VHF (Very High Frequency) timetable to be progressively introduced through early 2009, the highlights of which are a three-trains-per-hour service to both Birmingham and Manchester during off-peak periods, and nearly all Anglo-Scottish timings brought under the 4hrs 30min barrier — with one service (calling only at Preston) achieving a London-Glasgow time of 4hrs 10mins.



The complete route has been cleared for W10 loading gauge freight traffic, allowing use of higher 9 ft 6 in (2,896 mm) hi-cube shipping containers.[11][12]

Rolling stock

The majority of stock used on the West Coast Mainline is new build, part Virgin's initial franchise agreement was to purchase a brand new fleet of tilting trains for use on the West Coast. The 53 strong Pendolino fleet and three tilting Super Voyagers were purchased for use on InterCity services. One Pendolino was written off in 2007 following a derailment at Grayrigg. After the 2007 franchise "shake-up" in the Midlands, more Super Voyagers were transferred to Virgin West Coast, instead of going to the new CrossCountry franchise.

Previous franchisees Central Trains and Silverlink were given 30 "Desiros", which had originally been ordered for services in the southeast. Following Govia's successful bid for the West Midlands franchise in 2007, another 37 Desiros were ordered to replace their ageing fleet of 321s.

The older BR-vintage locomotive hauled passenger rolling stock still has a limited role on the WCML, with the overnight Caledonian Sleeper services between Euston and Scotland using Mark 3 and Mark 2 coaches, and Arriva CrossCountry use InterCity 125 HST sets over the West Midlands sections on Scotland-Plymouth/Penzance services.

Class Image Type Cars per set Top speed Number Operator Routes Built
mph km/h
Class 390 Pendolino Virgin Pendolino 390009 at Carlisle 2005-10-08 01.jpg EMU 9 (31 soon to be 11) 140 225 52 Virgin Trains All services from London Euston to; Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow 2001–2004
Class 221 SuperVoyager Virgin SuperVoyager @ Crewe.jpg DEMU 4/5 125 200 3 4 car
18 5 car
Virgin Trains All services from London Euston to: North Wales, Chester. All services from Birmingham to Scotland 2000–2002
Class 90 90017 at Norwich.JPG Electric locomotive 1 110 180 1 Virgin Trains
Hired from
DB Schenker
Relief train and Friday 18:46 London Euston to Preston service. 1987-90
Mark 3 Coach Virign silver FO.JPG Passenger Coach 10 125 200 10 Virgin Trains Relief train and Friday 18:46 London Euston to Preston service. 1975 - 1986 (refurbished 2009)
Virgin silver DVT.JPG DVT 1 125 200 1 Virgin Trains Relief train and Friday 18:46 London Euston to Preston service. 1988 (refurbished 2009)
Class 321/4 321411 Watford Junction E.JPG EMU 4 100 160 7 London Midland "The Watford shuttle" 1989-90
Class 350/1 Desiro 350104 LondonMidland.jpg EMU 4 100 160 30 London Midland London Euston to Tring, Milton Keynes, Northampton railway station and Birmingham
Birmingham to Liverpool.
Class 350/2 Desiro 350240 Birmingham New Street.jpg EMU 4 100 160 37 London Midland London Euston to Tring, Milton Keynes, Northampton railway station and Birmingham
Birmingham to Liverpool.
Class 185 Desiro Tpenewclass185.jpg DMU 3 100 160 51 First TransPennine Express TransPennine North West 2006


Virgin Trains

The current principal operator on the West Coast Mainline is Virgin Trains, which operates the majority of long distance services on the route. Virgin operates 9 trains per hour from Euston with 3 trains per hour to Birmingham & Manchester, 1 train per hour to Chester & Liverpool and 13 trains per day to Glasgow & 6 trains per day to Holyhead. There is also one train in each direction to Wrexham. Additional terminating services run to Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle.

Virgin operates one train per hour from Birmingham New Street to either Glasgow or Edinburgh (alternating each hour).[13][14]

Average Journey Times [15]

Route Fastest Journey Time Average Journey Time
London Euston-Birmingham New Street 1hr 11mins 1hr 22mins
London Euston-Manchester Piccadilly 1hr 58mins 2hrs 5mins
London Euston-Liverpool Lime Street 2hrs 1min 2hrs 7mins
London Euston-Glasgow Central 4hrs 10mins 4hrs 32mins
London Euston-Chester 1hr 58min 2hrs 4mins
London Euston-Holyhead 3hrs 38min 3hrs 38min

London Midland

London Midland provides commuter and some long distance services on the route, most of which terminate at London Euston. They are all operated under the "Express" brand. There is one train every 30 mins to Northampton, calling at the majority of stations en-route, one service every hour is extended to Birmingham. This service is roughly an hour slower than the equivalent Virgin Trains service.

London Midland also operates an hourly service to Crewe, which serves Watford, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Rugby, Nuneaton, Atherstone, Tamworth, Lichfield, Rugeley, Stafford, Stone, Stoke on Trent, Alsager and Crewe. This service was introduced in 2008 to coincide with the withdrawal of the similar Virgin Trains service.

A service to Tring is offered every 20 minutes from Euston calling at Harrow & Wealdstone, Bushey, Watford Junction, Kings Langley, Apsley, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted, with an hourly extension to Milton Keynes, which additionally calls at Cheddington, Leighton Buzzard and Bletchley.

During peak periods London Midland offers "The Watford Shuttle" which operates between Euston, Harrow and Wealdstone, Bushey & Watford Junction. One service in each direction is extended to Tring & Milton Keynes.

London Midland also operates an hourly service on the Marston Vale Line as well as a 45 minute service on the St Albans Branch Line.

Current developments

Felixstowe and Nuneaton freight capacity scheme

A number of items of work are proposed to accommodate additional freight traffic between the Haven ports and the Midlands including track dualling and the 'Nuneaton North Chord' which will simplyify access for some trains between the Birmingham to Peterborough Line and the West Coast Main Line]].

Proposed development

Increased line speed

Virgin Trains put forward plans in 2007 to increase the line speed in places on the WCML — particularly along sections of the Trent Valley Line between Stafford and Rugby from 125 to 135 mph (200 to 218 km/h) after the quadrupling of track had been completed. This would permit faster services and possibly allow additional train paths. 135 mph was claimed to be achievable by Pendolino trains while using existing lineside signalling without the need for cab signalling via the use of the TASS system (Tilt Authorisation and Speed Supervision) to prevent overspeeding. In practice regulations introduced by the HMRI (now ORR) at the time of the ECML high speed test runs in 1991 are still in force prohibiting this. Network Rail were aware of Virgin Train's aspirations[16], however on the 4th November 2009 Chris Mole MP (the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport) announced that there were no plans for this to happen and thus for the foreseeable future the maximum speed will remain at 125 mph[17].

In promoting this proposal, Virgin Trains reported that passenger numbers on Virgin West Coast increased from 13.6 million in 1997/98 to 18.7 million in 2005/6, while numbers on CrossCountry grew from 12.6 million to 20.4 million over the same period.[citation needed]


See also: List of rail accidents in the United Kingdom

The route in detail

Network Rail, successor from 2001 to Railtrack plc, in its business plan published in April 2006,[19] has divided the national network into 26 'Routes' for planning, maintenance and operational purposes.[20] Route 18 is named as 'that part of the West Coast Main Line that runs between London Euston and Carstairs Junction' although it also includes several branch lines that had not previously been considered part of the WCML.[21] The northern terminal sections of the WCML are reached by Routes 26 (to Motherwell and Glasgow) and 24 (to Edinburgh). This therefore differs from the "classic" definition of the WCML as the direct route from London Euston to Glasgow Central.

The cities and towns served by the WCML are listed in the tables below. Stations on loops and branches are marked **. Those stations in italics are not served by main-line services run by Virgin Trains but only by local trains. Between Euston and Watford Junction the WCML is largely but not exactly paralleled by the operationally independent Watford DC Line with 17 intermediate stations, including three with additional platforms on the WCML.

The final table retraces the route specifically to indicate the many loops, branches, junctions and interchange stations on Route 18, which is the core of the WCML, with the new 'Route' names for connecting lines.

The North Wales Coast Line from Crewe to Holyhead and the line from Manchester to Preston are not electrified. Services from London to Holyhead and from Manchester to Scotland are mostly operated either by Super Voyager tilting diesel trains or, in the case of one of the Holyhead services, by a Pendolino set hauled from Crewe by a Class 57/3 diesel locomotive.

London to Glasgow and Edinburgh (Network Rail Route 18)

The approximate route of the WCML shown within the UK, with major destinations, loops and branches shown.
Town/City Station Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Branches and loops
London London Euston TQ295827
Wembley Wembley Central TQ182850
Harrow Harrow and Wealdstone TQ154894
Bushey Bushey TQ118953
Watford Watford Junction TQ109973
Apsley Apsley TL080019
Kings Langley Kings Langley TL062048
Hemel Hempstead Hemel Hempstead TL042059
Berkhamsted Berkhamsted SP993081
Tring Tring SP950122
Cheddington Cheddington SP922185
Leighton Buzzard Leighton Buzzard SP910250
Bletchley Bletchley SP868337
** Bedford ** Bedford TL042497 Marston Vale Line spur
Milton Keynes (centre) Milton Keynes Central SP841380
Wolverton Wolverton SP820414
** Northampton ** Northampton SP623666 Northampton Loop diverges north of Wolverton
** Long Buckby ** Long Buckby SP511759 Northampton Loop rejoins south of Rugby
Rugby Rugby SP511759 Rugby-Birmingham-Wolverhampton-Stafford
(see separate table below)
Nuneaton Nuneaton SP364921
Atherstone Atherstone SP304979
Polesworth Polesworth SK264031
Tamworth Tamworth SK213044
Lichfield Lichfield Trent Valley SK136099
Rugeley Rugeley Trent Valley SK048191
Stafford Stafford SJ918229 Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford rejoins
Manchester via Stoke-on-Trent diverges
either before or after Stafford (two routes)
** Stoke-on-Trent ** Stoke-on-Trent SJ879456
** Congleton ** Congleton SJ872623
** Macclesfield ** Macclesfield SJ919736
** Stockport ** Stockport SJ892898
** Manchester ** Manchester Piccadilly SJ849977
Crewe Crewe SJ711546 Crewe-Manchester-Preston and
Crewe-Chester-North Wales-Holyhead
(see separate tables below)
Winsford Winsford SJ670660
Northwich Hartford SJ631717
Acton Bridge Acton Bridge SJ598745 Liverpool route diverges north of Acton Bridge
** Runcorn ** Runcorn SJ508826
** Liverpool ** Liverpool Lime Street SJ352905
Warrington Warrington Bank Quay SJ599878
Wigan Wigan North Western SD581053
Preston Preston SD534290 Crewe-Manchester-Preston rejoins
Lancaster Lancaster SD471617
Oxenholme (Kendal) Oxenholme Lake District SD531901
Penrith Penrith NY511299
Carlisle Carlisle NY402554
Lockerbie Lockerbie NY137817
Carstairs Carstairs Junction NS952454
Then either
Motherwell Motherwell NS750572
Glasgow Glasgow Central NS587651
Haymarket Haymarket NT239731
Edinburgh Edinburgh Waverley NT257738

Branches and loops

The WCML is noted for the diversity of branches served from the London to Edinburgh and Glasgow main line. The following map deals with the very complex network of lines in the West Midlands that link the old route via Birmingham with the new WCML route via the Trent Valley (i.e. 1830s versus 1840s):

Map of the Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford line and other local routes.

In the following tables, related to the WCML branches, only the Intercity stations are recorded:

Rugby-Birmingham-Wolverhampton-Stafford (Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford Line) (Network Rail Route 17)
Town/City Station Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Crewe-Holyhead (North Wales Coast Line) (Network Rail Route 22)
Town/City Station Ordnance Survey
grid reference
Crewe-Manchester-Preston (Network Rail Route 20)
Town/City Station Ordnance Survey
grid reference

Network Rail Route 18 (WCML) - Branches and junctions

Location Type Route Details
Camden Jnct Branch 18 Watford DC Line (WDCL)
+ Junction 6 North London Line from Primrose Hill joins WDCL and WCML
Willesden Jnct Junction 6 North London Line from West Hampstead joins WDCL and WCML
+ Junction 2 West London Line from Clapham Junction joins WCML
+ Junction 6 North London Line from Richmond joins WCML
Willesden Junction Interchange 6 North London Line with Watford DC Line
Watford Junction Branch 18 Watford DC Line terminates at separate bay platforms
+ Branch 18 St Albans Branch Line (AC single line single section) to St Albans
Bletchley Branch 18 Marston Vale Line to Bedford
Bletchley High Level (Denbigh Hall South Jnct) Branch 16 Freight only line to Newton Longville (remnant of mothballed Varsity Line to Oxford)
Hanslope Junction Loop 18 Northampton Loop leaves a few miles north of Wolverton and rejoins just south of Rugby
Rugby Junction 17 West Midlands Main Line to Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Stafford
Nuneaton Junction 19 The Birmingham to Peterborough Line from Peterborough
+ Junction 17 The Coventry to Nuneaton Line
+ Junction 17 The Birmingham to Peterborough Line to Birmingham
Tamworth Interchange 17 The Cross Country Route (MR) Bristol and Birmingham to Derby and the North East
Lichfield Trent Valley Interchange 17 The Cross-City Line Redditch to Lichfield
+ Junction 17 north of the station
Rugeley Trent Valley Junction 17 The Chase Line from Birmingham to Rugeley
Colwich Junction Branch 18 to Stoke-on-Trent and Manchester (Route 20 from Cheadle Hulme)
Stafford Junction 17 West Midlands Main Line from Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton
Norton Bridge Branch 18 to Stone to join line from Colwich Jnct to Manchester (Route 20 from Cheadle Hulme)
Stoke-on-Trent Junction 19 from Derby
Kidsgrove Branch 18 to Alsager and Crewe
Cheadle Hulme - 20 Route 18 London — Manchester Line becomes Route 20 through to Manchester
Crewe Branch 18 from Kidsgrove (diesel service from Skegness, Grantham, Nottingham Derby and Stoke-on-Trent)
+ Junction 14 The Welsh Marches Line from South Wales, Hereford and Shrewsbury
+ Junction 22 to Chester and the North Wales Coast Line
+ Junction 20 to Wilmslow, Manchester Airport, Stockport and Manchester
Hartford North Junction 20 (freight only) from Northwich
Weaver Jnct Branch 18 to Runcorn and Liverpool (Route 20 from Liverpool South Parkway railway station)
Liverpool South Parkway - 20 Route 18 London to Liverpool Line becomes Route 20 to Liverpool Lime Street
Warrington Junction 22 from Llandudno and Chester to Manchester
Winwick Jnct Junction 20 to Liverpool, Earlestown and Manchester
Wigan Junction 20 from Manchester
+ Junction 20 The Liverpool to Wigan Line
Euxton Jnct Junction 20 The Manchester to Preston Line from Manchester
Farington Jnct Junction 23 East Lancashire Line and Caldervale Line
Farington Curve Jnct Junction 23 Ormskirk Branch Line, East Lancashire Line and Caldervale Line
Preston Dock Junction 23 west
Preston Junction 20 to Blackpool
Morecambe South Jnct Junction 23 to Morecambe
Hest Bank Jnct Junction 23 from Morecambe
Carnforth Jnct Junction 23 Furness Line to Barrow-in-Furness and also the Leeds to Morecambe Line to Leeds
Oxenholme Junction 23 to Windermere
Penrith Junction 23 Route 23 uses two junctions to the north of the station
Carlisle Junction 23 Route 23 Settle-Carlisle Railway and Route 9 from Newcastle
+ Junction 23 The Cumbrian Coast Line from Barrow-in-Furness
Gretna Jnct Junction 26 to the Glasgow South Western Line
Carstairs South Jnct Junction 24 Route 18 West Coast Main Line becomes Route 24 to Edinburgh
Carstairs South - 26 Route 18 West Coast Main Line becomes Route 26 to Glasgow

The length of the WCML's main core section is nominally quoted as being 401.25 miles (645.7 km). The basis of this measurement is taken as being the distance between the midpoint of Platform 18 of London Euston to that of Platform 1 of Glasgow Central, and has historically been the distance used in official calculations during speed record attempts.

See also


  1. ^ http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/virgin/
  2. ^ "High-speed tilting train on track", BBC News Online, 12 December 2005.
  3. ^ West Coast Main Line, Department for Transport.
  4. ^ http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/virgin/ railway-technology.com West Coast Main Line Pendolino Tilting Trains, United Kingdom
  5. ^ Electric all the way, British Rail, 1974.
  6. ^ History of the West Coast Main Line, Virgin Trains, July 2004.
  7. ^ Nock, O. S. (1965). Britain's new railway: Electrification of the London-Midland main lines from Euston to Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Liverpool and Manchester. Shepperton: Ian Allan. OCLC 59003738
  8. ^ Nock, O. S. (1974). Electric Euston to Glasgow. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0711005303
  9. ^ "High-speed tilting train on track", BBC News Online, 12 December 2005.
  10. ^ "West Coast rail works completed". BBC News Online. 14 December 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7782085.stm. 
  11. ^ "West coast main line upgrade". Corus rail. http://www.corusrail.com/en/design_and_innovation/case_studies/casestudy-westcoastmainlineupgrade. Retrieved 16 May 2009. 
  12. ^ "Freight Route Utilisation Stategy — March 2007". Network Rail. http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/rus%20documents/route%20utilisation%20strategies/freight/freight%20rus.pdf. Retrieved 25 November 2009. 
  13. ^ "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". Network Rail. http://www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/eNRT/Dec09/Complete%20Timetable%20December%202009.pdf. 
  14. ^ "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". Department for Transport. http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/wcml/wcms2008timetables/. 
  15. ^ "WCML 2008 timetable Virgin Trains". Virgin Trains. http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/assets/pdf/media-room/fact-sheet.pdf. 
  16. ^ Business plan 2007, Network Rail.
  17. ^ Hansard - 4th November 2009
  18. ^ "Ministry of Transport Accident Report Between Grayrigg and Oxenholme, L.M.S.R., 18 May 1947". http://home.clara.net/gw0hqd/bumps/180547/180547.htm. Retrieved 18 February 2008. 
  19. ^ Business plan 2007, Network Rail.
  20. ^ Route plans, Network Rail.
  21. ^ Network Rail Route 18.
  • Buck, Martin. and Rawlinson, Mark (2000). Line By Line: The West Coast Main Line, London Euston to Glasgow Central. Swindon: Freightmaster Publishing. ISBN 0953754006

External links

Coordinates: 52°10′41″N 0°55′27″W / 52.17801°N 0.92405°W / 52.17801; -0.92405

Simple English

West Coast Main Line is a main line between London and Glasgow in United Kingdom. Train services are operated by Virgin Trains and CrossCountry.


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