STONE and Stafford rail passengers are being given an early Christmas present - faster trains to London.
The new service unveiled by London Midland will slash journey times by up to 35 minutes to under two hours following an upgrade of trains that enables them to run at 110mph.
The new London Midland timetable came into force on Monday. The faster trains are part of London Midland’s Project 110, which enables more trains to run on the busy Euston line and will also see the introduction of 10 new trains in 2014 to meet increasing demand.
London Midland commercial director, Richard Brooks, said, “It’s great that we’ve been able to launch this improved service ahead of Christmas.
“The 35 minutes’ time saving from Stoke on Trent, Stone and Stafford makes it much easier for people to use us for a daytrip to the capital, while the additional return services give more flexibility.”
Other improvements launched this week include additional early evening departures from London Euston to Stoke on Trent, Stone and Stafford, leaving the capital at 4.46pm and 5.24pm.
Rail services began calling at Stone’s station again in 2008, more than five years after being withdrawn.
The Newsletter ran a popular campaign to get train services back in the town, backed by MP Bill Cash and, since their return, demand has soared.
In May, the Office of Rail Regulation reported that Stone’s station had the biggest increase in footfall in the county - an annual growth rate of 152 per cent.
Footfall in 2010/2011 was 76,346, compared to 48,054 in 2009/2010 and 12,018