Back on track
Stirling-London rail service resumes
A direct, early-morning train from Stirling to London has been reinstated — four months after it was ‘temporarily suspended’.
Operators LNER re-introduced the daily and direct weekday service this week with the promise that the reliability issues which had bedevilled its operation had now been ironed out.
The service is scheduled to leave Stirling at 5.26am and is due in London Kings Cross at 10.49 am.
LNER took over operation of the eastcoast main line from Virgin in June and made the decision to withdraw the service in August.
Explaining the move, bosses blamed the removal from service of one of its trains which had been damaged during the ‘beast from east’ storm last winter.
LNER was also facing reliability issues because of its aging fleet and it said the hot summer weather had increased the level of failures of both track and train, including major incidents such as the loss of all signalling around York and Leeds on July 27.
Disruption caused by timetable change for other operators at key locations such as Kings Cross and Leeds had made it difficult for LNER to arrive on time, the company said.
A LNER spokesperson said reliability problems should be eased next year when new hi-tech Azuma trains are added to its fleet.
“Since August, we have implemented a comprehensive programme of reliability improvements to our existing trains and recruited more engineers dedicated to eliminating defects,” the spokesman added.
“The damaged train has also been recently reintroduced into service after undergoing significant repairs.”
Following the decision to suspend the service, Stirling MP Stephen Kerr and MSP Bruce Crawford wrote to LNER slamming the move as unacceptable and pointing out how the trains were valued, particularly by the area’s business community.
Managing director of LNER David Horne said he had been working closely with Mr Kerr on the matter and added: “We have prioritised the reinstatement of these services and hope this move reassures our customers that we are fully committed to playing our part in connecting this important region of Scotland to the rest of the east coast mainline.”
Mr Kerr added: “I was delighted to receive the news that these important services are being reinstated.
Through the regular contact I have had with LNER I know they have worked really hard to address the problems that caused the suspension.”
The then Transport Minister Derek Mackay and other dignitaries were at Stirling Railway Station for the launch of the service by Virgin Trains in December, 2015.
It was hoped the weekday service would cut rail journey times to the UK capital by 46 minutes and ensure passengers didn’t have to change trains.
Launch Mr Mackay cuts the tape in 2015 to launch the service watched by (left) councillors Johanna Boyd and Craig Martin, Virgin Trains’Warrick Dent and John McNally, MP for Falkirk