Where is the North? (Or, trying to work out when the trains are running at Christmas)

Published on 19 November 2007 in , , , ,

Here’s a question. Where is “The North”?

The question came up in my mind whilst thinking about booking train tickets for the dreaded Christmas cross-country train trip in order that I might sit in a different house eating food, watching TV and drinking beer, instead of doing it in my own.

Problem is, there’s no train times for any Virgin Trains journies between Stockport and London for the 27 December – you’re told to go via Leeds or Sheffield instead. This isn’t unusual – Christmas timetables are often late in arriving. However the engineering work page for that date says…

There will be no Virgin Trains services between London Euston and Birmingham International. Services from The North will terminate at either Birmingham International or Coventry. Passengers will need to travel with other rail operators for journey to / from London.

Virgin Trains, engineering work for 27 December 2007

Manchester trains often go through Birmingham International in my experience, so naturally there’s a question mark – especially as the page says that this engineering work affects “All routes”

Trouble is, right below that is this comment:

Services on the London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly route, will start / terminate at Stockport. Rail replacement coaches will be in operation.

Which kinda implies that if you’re going on the Manchester route, trains are going all the way down – you’ve just got to get to Stockport and go from there.

Of course that contradicts the comment about “All Routes” from the first one, however if Manchester doesn’t fit into Virgin Trains’s definition of “The North” (that could refer to Lancashire and beyond perhaps). Or is it that in this case, “The North” just means north of Birmingham?

In the end I gave up and emailed Virgin themselves. Impressively within 90 minutes the answer was in my inbox, where Dolly told me that she could “confirm that there are no direct routes from Stockport to London on 27th December”.

Helpfully she invited me to check out the latest information at the National Rail site, which is interesting in itself, because their engineering site site only lists this engineering work as only affecting 29th and 30th of December…


  • Kirk says:

    I’m working this Christmas, so I don’t have to take the usual crammed crappy green train to Cambridge that I normally do (’cause going via London at Christmas costs more). However I am going home over new year instead, and was hoping I could do it via London, especially as now the crappy green train company no longer exists and I have to go via Birmingham New Street. Although from what you say, maybe even that’s not possible… sigh…

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    I’m sure the trains will still be green, just with a nice Stagecoach-esque logo on them! I just love rail franchise changes – just think how much money could be spent on decent things if operators weren’t too busy repainting trains, putting on different stickers on signs, replacing non-worn out staff uniforms and worrying about “growing the brand” like CrossCountry are doing (when we all know the brand will be changed to something like Arriva Trains Cross UK or something, within about three years)