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Rail group calls for better links between England and Scotland

RAIL campaigners have called for better links to be established between the English Midlands and Scotland when a new rail franchise comes into place next year.

The Campaign for Rail (CfR) say that sleeper trains which run between Scotland and London should have an additional stop in Birmingham, and have written to the Scottish Government with their proposals.

Currently two sleeper trains run six nights a week, but do not stop in the Midlands despite passing through on their way south.

The franchise to run them is up for renewal and Campaign for Rail has made the case for the Highland Sleeper train to call at Birmingham New Street. They say that establishing a new connection would be an attractive prospect for the Midlands and the South West and could boost business and tourism in Scotland.

Ian Jenkins, of Campaign for Rail, said: "The train splits in Edinburgh into portions for stations to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William, so much of Scotland is served. In addition, the new franchise has the Fort William carriages call at a station in central Glasgow, so Scotland's largest city is served too."

The Scottish Government has promised £50 million, matched by the Department for Transport in London, to develop the service and wants to see the number of passengers increase.

The companies on the shortlist to run the franchise are the First group, holder of the Scotrail franchise, Arriva and Serco.

Transport Scotland will begin consideration of the bids early in 2014 with the announcement of the successful bidder expected in the Spring. The new franchisee for the Anglo-Scottish sleepers would commence operation in April 2015.

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said that it could not comment further while the tendering process remains ongoing.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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