In December 2013 Virgin Trains joined the hourly London to Wolverhampton service with the hourly Birmingham to Scotland service. I understand that the main reason behind the change was to ensure that the busy Birmingham to Scotland services were all Pendolinos or double-Voyagers (and this was the only way to achieve this, given that - obviously - there couldn't possibly be investment in additional rolling stock). Virgin Trains described the change as introducing "new, hourly services direct from Coventry, Birmingham International and Sandwell & Dudley through to North West England and Scotland." This is a half-truth, as although these journeys can now be made on direct services, they are far from "new" services. The benefits of having direct services are that: passengers going north from Sandwell & Dudley can depart 11 minutes later - xx:24 instead of xx:13 (changing at Wolverhampton) passengers going north from Birmingham International can depart 7 minutes later - xx:53 instead of xx:46 (changing at New Street) passengers going north from Coventry can depart 12 minutes later - xx:42 instead of xx:30 (changing at New Street) None of these would I consider to be significant improvements. Passengers from Milton Keynes don't benefit at all because it is still quicker to catch a service to Chester (via the Trent Valley) and change at Crewe. Now for the downsides: 1. Single Voyagers on Birmingham to London services (and vice versa) resulting in gross overcrowding. Have a look at this article from two days ago: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/bbc-stars-fury-144-train-9316736. The person complaining had purchased a First Class ticket and the photograph is of the single First Class carriage on Virgin's "Super" Voyager trains. How could Virgin Trains possibly consider a 5 car train with a single First Class carriage to be sufficient on a route where there is traditionally a 9 car train with four First Class carriages every 20 minutes, and even that was found to be insufficient given the eventual extension of many of these trains to 11 cars? How is reduced crowding between Birmingham and Scotland an improvement if it results in extreme crowding between Birmingham and London? It's not an improvement. It's a swap! Even though the Birmingham Mail article was reporting on a bank holiday train, the overcrowding on Voyagers between Birmingham and London is regular. The 09:50 Birmingham to Euston service, which is the first off-peak service for passengers from Rugby (other than one extremely early morning service), is a 5 car Voyager! 2. Lengthier journey times for journeys from the North West to Birmingham New Street. Pre-VHF (Very High Frequency - the Virgin Trains timetable launched on 14 December 2008) the journey time from Warrington to Birmingham was as short as 73 minutes. Following VHF it was 76 minutes (slightly longer, but at hourly intervals). Since December 2013 it has been 86 minutes, with a tedious dwell time in Wolverhampton of 12 minutes. So a decade later, the journey time is 13 minutes longer than in 2005! What is the point of all that investment in 125mph rolling stock and line speed improvements, if it is faster to travel between Crewe and Birmingham with London Midland!? 3. Only one train every hour between Birmingham and Wolverhampton (and vice versa) instead of two. Prior to December 2013 there were two Virgin trains an hour between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, separated by 25 minutes northbound and 15 minutes southbound. Now there is only one. I'd hardly describe that as an improvement. 4. Significantly worse reliability between Birmingham and London. Reliability between Scotland and Birmingham is embarrassingly bad, even with the 12 minute dwell (or "recovery") time at Wolverhampton. This has a knock-on effect on reliability between Birmingham and London, with the service from Scotland being timed to depart Birmingham at xx:10. As Virgin Trains (to their credit) isn't quick to cancel services, this has an additional knock-on effect on the reliability of the xx:30 Birmingham to London services. 5. Poorer service between Milton Keynes and London. Now that the xx:30 Birmingham to London services call at Watford Junction instead of Milton Keynes Central, all three of the hourly southbound Virgin Trains services from Milton Keynes to London depart in the space of 16 minutes. Does anyone else have experience of travelling with Virgin Trains on this route? Does anyone have anything positive to say about the changes?