Virgin Trains is advising football supporters wishing to travel by train to the FA Cup Final on Saturday 11 May that there are no suitable services returning to the North West that take into account the uncertainty of when the match will actually end.
The last train from London Euston to Wigan North Western on a Saturday leaves at 20:31, while the last departure to Manchester Piccadilly is at 21:00. The cup presentation ceremony and celebrations, together with the possibility of extra time and a penalty shoot out, all mean that by the time supporters reach London Euston following a journey from Wembley last trains will have departed.
The unpredictability of exactly when the match will end coupled with the earlier close down on Saturdays of the West Coast Main Line for essential maintenance and inspection mean that the planning of any additional services to the North West is extremely difficult given the high numbers of supporters that would attempt to travel that evening. Virgin Trains would much rather everyone understands the position well in advance so that they can make their plans accordingly.
Whilst all options have been thoroughly explored around return travel immediately after the match, Virgin Trains finds itself totally constrained by the decision of the FA to have a tea-time kick off and Network Rail’s requirement to carry out essential maintenance on the West Coast Main Line.
On the morning of the Final an additional train will run from Wigan North Western to London Euston - exact timings will be advertised as soon as possible - while from Manchester the advertised 20 minute frequency to London Euston will be in operation. Return travel to Wigan and Manchester on Sunday will be by the normal advertised services with details available now by visiting nationalrail.co.uk or calling 08457 48 49 50.
The Football Association (FA), with whom there has been a regular dialogue, fully understands the position of the train operators while they in turn acknowledge the commercial and footballing considerations of the FA. Going forward, the regular dialogue between the organisations will continue and will take an advanced look at fixture lists and how they can work alongside the backdrop of the operation of a long distance railway with the objective of attempting to meet the aspirations of football supporters.
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