I would say Preston, but I do North Wales reasonably regularly and know it back-to-front so I'm going to say more NWML services from Virgin wouldn't go down badly
Anyways, even though there won't be a direct service, and a change will be required at Birmingham, Stafford or Crewe (VWC will run Birmingham - Wolverhampton - Stafford then north to fill the gap left by XC) - at least there are still Pendolinos from WC - which are still way better than anything else running that line.
What have first done with Wessex? As a local i have seen better stock (158s), cheaper CDRs, quite large reductions! The new timetable isn't the best but i wouldn't call the new franchise bad.
Ah yes, 143s meant to go on Paignton-exmouth-barny.
How the hell that would last i do not know. 1 Door per carriage. Less seats, trains packed at rush hour and they are a health risk. I have seen a video of the bounce near exmouth. MY GOD!