Virgin Trains has vowed to fill the high-quality customer service void left by the collapse of the Wrexham & Shropshire railway company.
The Wrexham and Shropshire rail service, which linked the rural county and Walsall’s Tamebridge Parkway to London, stopped operating last Friday, blaming economic conditions for its demise.
Its reputation for high-quality customer service was praised by consumer groups for its standards of passenger care.
Rival operator Virgin Trains has revealed it is looking to introduce “revolutionary new ideas” to surprise customers as it bids to extend its franchise when it is renewed in three years.
A spokesman for Virgin said brand owner Richard Branson was “very excited” about the future of services linking London with the West Midlands.
Arthur Leathley, of Virgin, said: “Richard has been through the dark days and he is very excited about some of the plans we have for the future.
“It is very hard to introduce major changes during the last three years of a franchise but we are pushing quite hard for these to be as revolutionary as possible."
He said Virgin joined hundreds of passengers to mourn the demise of the Wrexham and Shropshire service.
“They created a standard of service that was extremely good and was the example for the rest of us to follow.
“Virgin wants to emulate that standard of service for our passengers, but it has to be viable. We want to get back to the days when a train journey was special and we have some revolutionary ideas that we would like to introduce.
“It is fine promising to promote local produce if you offer a limited service, but for the volume of food served by Virgin Trains it is very difficult for suppliers to meet our demands. Promises have to be deliverable,” said Mr Leathley.
He said Virgin wanted to add to the frequency of its service from London to the West Midlands and Wales.
“We have looked to step in to fill the gap left by the failure of Wrexham and Shropshire but it is not that easy.
‘‘There are problems with track and rolling stock that have to be overcome and timetable slots to be established with Network Rail.
“However, there is a lot we can do to improve operations between Birmingham and Wolverhampton."
He said suggestions that Virgin had contributed to the demise of the Wrexham and Shropshire service were untrue.
“We did not prevent them dropping off passengers at Wolverhampton as has been stated by politicians," he insisted.
‘‘That was a Government move which was introduced because of disruption caused by the upgrade to the line. We actually looked at setting up an extra service on the line because we thought that the competition would be good for passengers.
"But the plan was objected to by Wrexham and Shropshire, which was ironic."
Virgin’s West Coast franchise comes to an end in March 2012 and the company is now planning for its new timetable which should be introduced in December.
“Virgin is waiting for the green light to introduce new ideas and develop the service. It is all good for Midlands travellers,” he said.
Richard Worrall, former Walsall councillor and ex-chairman of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, welcomed Virgin’s promise. He said: “If Virgin wants to serve Tame Bridge Parkway, they can do it now from their own resources.
“Some years ago, Virgin proposed a direct London service from Shrewsbury via Wolverhampton, Walsall, Water Orton and Nuneaton.
“This was seen by Wrexham & Shropshire as a deliberate threat to its service, so the company formally objected,” added Mr Worrall. “I suggested they should just concentrate on Walsall. Perhaps they would like to revive this as a serious proposal, given there’d now be universal support, and no serious opposition.”