AN Ellington businessman is behind a new train service that will restore a lost link between London, Shropshire and North Wales next year. Mike Jones is a senior and founding director of Renaissance Trains, which has been the country s only open access

One of the trains that will launch the service

AN Ellington businessman is behind a new train service that will restore a lost link between London, Shropshire and North Wales next year.

Mike Jones is a senior and founding director of Renaissance Trains, which has been the country's only "open access" operator since it launched the Hull Trains link between Humberside and the capital in 2000.

His company is the driving force behind the new North Wales service, which it will operate in partnership with Laing Rail, a subsidiary of the civil engineering company that has operated services from London's Marylebone station to the West Midlands since privatisation 10 years ago.

The Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway company will initially operate five trains a day in each direction, serving Wrexham via Ruabon, Chirk, Gobowen, Shrewsbury, Telford and Tame Bridge Parkway. Other stations, including Wellington and Cosford, will be served by some trains.

Hull Trains now carries 500,000 passengers a year without subsidy on seven direct services a day.

Mr Jones, a former senior British Rail manager, told The Hunts Post: "People in Shropshire were agitating for a direct train service to London, but the Department for Transport said no, because it would have involved electrification to Shrewsbury.

"There used to be a service on the Paddington main line to Birkenhead, and BR ran a couple of services a day, but they ended when the era of fixed-formation trains came.

"But the passenger rail market has grown by 50 per cent in the last 10 years and, having successfully done Hull Trains, we believe this will succeed too."

Wrexham and Shropshire will start operations in March 2008 with diesel-hauled push-pull trains of three passenger carriages. The five weekday services will be supplemented by four on Saturdays and three on Sundays. The initial end-to-end journey times of four hours to Wrexham and three-and-a-half to Shrewsbury is expected to reduce substantially by the end of next year as speed limits are removed, Mr Jones said.

INFORMATION: wrexhamandshropshire. co.uk