BRITISH passenger operator West Midlands Trains (WMT) will later this year submit a proposal to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to extend its London - Crewe service to Manchester.

If approved, WMT says that the new service to Manchester Victoria could start in May 2026 once additional drivers have been recruited and trained.

Under the London Northwestern Railway brand, WMT currently operates an hourly service between London Euston and Crewe, calling at most intermediate stations on the Trent Valley Line between Rugby and Stafford.

These trains would be extended to run to Manchester Victoria via Warrington, with the current Stafford - Crewe service extended to Manchester Airport.

The Manchester Victoria service would be operated with WMT’s new fleet of five-car class 730 Aventra EMUs, being supplied by Alstom as part of an order for 81 Aventras in total. WMT says that a 10-car train will be able carry over 1200 passengers, providing a significant increase in capacity.

The first of 48 three-car Aventra EMUs entered service with WMT on April 15, deployed on the Cross City Line running from Litchfield Trent Valley via Birmingham New Street to Bromsgrove and Redditch.

According to WMT managing director, Mr Ian McConnell, operating the new services under WMT’s contract with the Department of Transport (DfT), rather than on an open-access basis, will see “the millions of pounds of extra revenue our proposals would generate” returned to the taxpayer.

“This proposal puts passengers at the heart of the railway and is the common sense solution to increase connectivity between the northwest and the West Midlands following the cancellation of the northern leg of HS2,” McConnell says.

“With platform space at Euston at a premium, the best way to provide new journey opportunities to Manchester is simply to extend existing services, rather than trying to squeeze more trains onto the congested West Coast Main Line.”