As work on the West Coast Main Line upgrade intensifies with the hope of getting it completed by the end of the year, the southern part of the line is going to be closed for a lot of weekends this year. But instead of forcing passengers onto buses as they used to, Virgin have come up with a plan to run shuttle trains down the Chiltern Main Line. Somehow, they're still terminating at Euston.
Here's how they're going to get there :
- The Chiltern Main Line. Used by Chiltern trains from Birmingham to Marylebone.
- The New North Main Line. Once British Rail's flagship London-Birmingham route, now single track and used only by Chiltern Trains to access Paddington on the weekends when Marylebone is closed, and for one daily barely-advertised train.
- The Greenford Branch. The local trains crawl along this line due to the poor condition of the track, and it isn't normally used for diversions.
- The Great Western Main Line. Used by all trains to and from Paddington.
- Acton East Junction. The only passenger service on this route is the daily Brighton-Kensington Olympia-Reading CrossCountry service. Unlike on the map above, this is actually west of where the New North Main Line connects, hence why Virgin are forced to use the Greenford Branch.
- The North London Line.
- Willesden South West Sidings. Also used by the CrossCountry trains mentioned above on their way to/from the West London Line.
- The West Coast Main Line. Finally, Euston.
If you fancy a trip, it'll run hourly on the days the WCML is blocked, starting next weekend, and it'll also give you a glimpse of the new platform at Denham and the Gerrard's Cross Tesco Tunnel disaster.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in what they're actually doing to the West Coast Main Line, there's a very readable in-depth brochure here, with lots of diagrams.