Over a large number of weekends this year, mainly due to engineering works in the Rugby area, Virgin Trains have been running hourly trains from London Euston to Coventry and Birmingham International, diverted up the Chiltern Railways route through rural Buckinghamshire.
According to a Network Rail press release put out today, the engineering work is now complete. Starting from next weekend the number of trains using the West Coast Main Line will increase dramatically, with journey times seeing significant reductions.
This is of course good news for travelers who will see a significant increase in seat capacity between London, Birmingham and stations north.
Hitherto, Chiltern Railways have offered the best value (ie cheapest) easily available fare between London and Birmingham at £5 each way (obviously, subject to restrictions).
In tonight's evening papers were Virgin Trains adverts offering tickets from the same price between London Euston and Birmingham, supposedly from next Sunday which is when the new timetable starts.
What a fantastic way for Virgin to thank Chiltern for their co-operation during the weekends of the Rugby blockade (see press release of 12 June 2008).
I do admire Chiltern Railways, but I've just checked with Virgin and it is possible to get a weekday mid-morning booking next month, from Euston for the promised £5 and the journey is scheduled to be as quick as 1hr 22 min.
Chiltern would appear to have some stiff competition!