You may or may not be aware that the UK Dept. for Transport are at present conducting a public consultation on the next West Coast Main Line franchise.
What has that got to do with the West Highland Lines you may ask. Well quite a lot really. As you will know, unless you go on to the sleeper.scot or the trainline or strangely, greatwestern websites, it can be very difficult to book a sleeper to Fort William, or any of the other sleeper destinations for that matter. This also applies to seated accommodation on sleeper trains. If you try the Virgin Trains website it will just tell you, “no tickets are available, please refine your search.”
Any FWHL members who were at the AGM will know that even going back to the First ScotRail franchise this is an issue that the sleeper operators and ourselves have tried hard to get resolved but with no results. Virgin Trains told us they were only obliged to offer all other operators services at booking offices. This is not acceptable.
We feel the consultation is a chance to highlight this issue. We shall of course be responding to reflect the society’s view. That will count as one submission. If every member of FWHL alone made a similar submission that would count as 400 submissions on that one point.
We know that all of you have the best interests of the WHL at heart so we ask if you could possibly take a little time out this week to respond to the consultation. You may wish to make other personal points in the survey, but you DO NOT NEED to answer all the questions. There is a question on ticketing where you can restrict your response to a few lines in the “other comments” box towards the end. We would suggest if you could, using your own words, say something emphasising that , “The operator should be required to offer all other operators’ train services on their booking website. This must include sleeper services and seated accommodation on sleeper services. These are not offered at the moment on the website of the current operator of the West Coast Main Line.”
Please click HERE to access the survey.
Details of the consultation are on www.gov.uk/government/collections/rail-franchising#intercity-west-coast-franchise
The consultation closes on 2nd August 2016. We know this is short notice, but there is still time for you take a small step that could help improve the future viability of the West Highland Lines.