A refurbished fleet of first-class Intercity carriages are an unexpected alternative to the troubled Avanti West Coast, as a heritage railway operator has launched a rival service.

Intercity train hauled by Class 90 locomotive

(c) Locomotive City

Currently just running on Fridays, the new rival operator, Locomotive City, will offer two trips a day, one from Crewe to London, and back from London to Manchester, calling at Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Crewe & Wilmslow.

The fares for the first class only service are a reasonable £75 each way.

For comparison, for a similar trip on Avanti West Coast next Friday, you’d be looking at around £68 for the standard class, and £170 for first class on the same route.

An Intercity Service

On top of the lower fare, the Intercity trains will run at 110 mph using Electric Locomotives, air-conditioned coaches with tables and 240V power points. Two buffet cars are available on board, serving teas, coffees, snacks and alcoholic beverages.

The locomotive is a former British Rail Class 90, that Locomotive City has refurbished.

The heritage company was able to bid for a couple of the vacant slots being left unused on Fridays because Avanti West Coast has a shortage of drivers, which is causing problems running services. They might bid on a few others if this service proves to be popular and other slots are available.

An alternative to Avanti

The heritage train service is not meant to be a trainspotters service though as the company said that it is offering a genuine alternative to Avanti West Coast. That said, the train is likely to have a fair number of train spotters amongst the people trying to get to Manchester for the weekend.

With the problems that Avanti West Coast have been having in recent weeks, anything that helps to get people to their destination is a good thing. However, the alternative is not just cheaper, and also for many people, an upgrade in service, it’s also undeniably a nostalgic moment to see that famous Intercity logo once more.

You can book tickets from here.

Interior of Intercity carriages

(c) Locomotive City


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  1. Laurence says:

    Your website is great, but some of the popups from advertisers have become intrusive lately, Ian.

    It makes visiting from a mobile almost impossible.

    I am posting this from my laptop.

    • JP says:

      Tis the way of the world is it not? I too use a mobile phone and I agree with you that the ads are a pain as well as a painful necessity. Notwithstanding that, I’ve persuaded myself that getting rid of at least one set of ads by clicking on the little “x” is a bonus game of Whack a mole and is now second nature.

    • Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

      I don’t see any ads at all, but I object to the “legitimate interest” and also use doh-ch.blahdns.com as my private DNS provider in network settings – but that’s on Android, there may be better options on desktop.

      Be aware also that this can make everything break if that goes down. YMMV. As the provider says, if you’re a regular visitor, a direct donation would go a long way.

  2. Chris says:

    Laurence, I’m using the Brave browser and not seeing any pop-ups.

    I was bemused by first image of the train as I cannot see any doors on those coaches.

  3. ChrisC says:

    It’s over an extra hour between London and Manchester on this train compared to the Avanti direct service.

    That’s going to put a lot of people off.

    • JP says:

      Nothing that another gentle saunter to the Buffet car for another smug G & T wouldn’t smooth away, I’d say.

      As is often the case though, these journeys are rapidly snapped up by those somehow in the know. Nevertheless, as stated, this particular service is intended to be an actual service and not primarily a jolly.
      If you’d timed it right, you could’ve gone to Newcastle too. But not exactly from London! Likewise Paignton and so on and so forth.

      The company says that it intends to provide more of the same but the powers that be are only allowing it to look four Fridays into the future in the case of the highlighted route. Perhaps Avanti will have pulled its socks up by then.

  4. Mr Hackett says:

    I saw this train on the sidings near Crewe station, a week ago while travelling to North Wales – I’ll email you the photo directly

  5. Dave says:

    There should be more of this.

    If we have private railways, let’s open them up and actually get some competition. Companies having a monopoly on a route is the reason privatisation is failing, especially south of london

    • ianVisits says:

      We already have options for competitive operators — the problem is the lack of space on the railways to allow extra companies to run trains on them. That’s why the UK is building HS2, to create capacity on the regional and commuter routes (albeit less so in south London).

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