Written by: fringestalin
Find out some information about the West Coast Main Line right here on Engine Driver in under 1000 words.
The West Coast Main Line is a mixed-traffic railway in the United Kingdom. Carrying over 4000 trains every day, and around 30-75 million people a year, it is easily the busiest railway line in terms of railway traffic, and one of the busiest in terms of passenger numbers in the UK.
Though spoken as one route, it is in fact composed of several different railways; the first being the London and Birmingham Railway which was built by Robert Stevenson, the famous railway engineer of whom the famous locomotive, Stevenson’s Rocket, was named after. His statue can be found outside the station of London Euston, the southern terminus of the West Coast Main Line.
Starting at London Euston, the line covers the West Midlands, the Trent Valley, North-West England, the Pennines, and Southern Scotland before it’s central core route comes to an end at it’s northern terminus station, Glasgow Central, 401 miles away from London. Some of the other terminus stations along the way are Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly, and Liverpool Lime Street. There is also a connection to the North Wales Coast Line at Crewe where modern express services run to Chester, Holyhead, Bangor and Wrexham.
London Euston – The Southern Terminus Glasgow Central – The Northern Terminus
Though served by many train operating companies in the UK, the principal operator is Virgin Trains, which runs three trains per hour to Birmingham and Manchester, one to Liverpool, Chester and Glasgow, and as of 2013, alternating hourly services to Glasgow or Edinburgh via Birmingham. Some Chester services are extended to North Wales destinations, primarily Holyhead.
A Class 390 Pendolino at Glasgow Central station awaiting departure. This unit, in common with the rest of the fleet, is painted in the Virgin Trains silver and red livery.
The line is powered by 25kV Overhead Wires, which is collected from pantographs of electric trains. The primary electric train is the Class 390 Pendolino, which is able to tilt on the bends of this extremely twisty track at speeds of up to 125mph (200km/h). Interestingly enough, 20 years earlier, British Rail experimented with a prototype tilting train of their own called the Advanced Passenger Train (APT) which could run up to 155mph (250km/h) which was limited by signalling systems. This speed even beat the Class 390 targeted speeds of 140mph (225km/h). The project was unsuccessful, but the technology helped Fiat and Alstom create the Pendolino tilting train family and eventually, tilting trains returned, but in an extremely ironic turn of events.
So there we have it, the West Coast Main Line in less than 1000 words. If this article becomes popular enough, there will be a similar article on the popular East Coast Main Line. Feel free to correct any misinformation, as your contribution counts.
All images were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.