IT has been a fond claim of politicians in both the earlier Labour government and more recently among Coalition Ministers that £9 billion was spent improving the West Coast Main Line after privatisation – the phrase ‘upgrade’ has often been used, even though the original investment programme was long ago ‘de-scoped’ to be a ‘route modernisation’ with many upgrade elements eliminated.  In fact, even some modernisation elements were deferred to keep the cost down.

The result of the £9 billion engineering works, extending over more than a decade, was only to bring the level of speeds and journey times on the West Coast route up to those enjoyed by the Great Western and East Coast main lines where speeds up to 125mph, and average journeys of over 100mph, first applied more than 30 years — and sometimes still do, despite extra stops and recovery time added to schedules since provatisation. Continue reading