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Train strain as pre-season disruptions announced

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Planning to let the train take the strain as you travel to pre-season friendly or over the next fortnight or so?

If you were intent on indulging in any football-related train travel on the West Coast Main Line over the first two weekends in August, you’d best think again.

Football fans intending to travel North to Glasgow for the Glasgow Rangers v Liverpool friendly at Ibrox on Saturday, August 2 should note there will be NO suitable trains running for fans returning South after the game.

And Virgin Trains have also warned supporters intending to travel to the fixture from south of Carlisle on Saturday, August 2 they should check train times 24 hours prior to departure. Because they admit there’s every chance they’ll need to travel significantly earlier than normal to make sure they reach Ibrox in time for the 3pm kick-off.

Essential route improvement work on the West Coast Main Line means that road coaches will replace trains between Preston and Carlisle all day on Saturday 2 August and until 1300 hours on Sunday 3 August. Journey times will be extended by around two hours.

At least they’ve had the decency to try and let you know before pocketing your dough, though! And unless making arduous, highly frustrating and ultimately fruitless journeys appeal to the latent adventurer lurking within you, you’re best off not troubling the Virgin Trains ticket sales team on Saturday, August 2 and Sunday, August 3.

And a similar warning also applies to those travelling from the North West to the FA Community Shield match between Manchester United and Portsmouth at Wembley on Sunday, August 10.

Those of you with a flair for securing cheap train tickets by booking early should also exercise extreme vigilance, as weekend services on the West Coast Main Line look likely to be subjected to severe delays until DECEMBER at the earliest.

“Network Rail is carrying out significant improvement work to prepare for better rail services, but in the meantime this involves more alterations to timetables than were originally expected”, a Virgin Trains spokesman told the FSF.

“Football fans intending to use Virgin Trains on the West Coast Main Line should note that there will be significant changes to rail services every weekend and on some other dates from now until December, involving alternative road transport, diverted trains and increased journey times. Cities and towns affected include London, Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester, Wigan, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow.”

Details of amended timetables with significantly longer journey times will be available later this week from National Rail Enquiries on and 08457 48 49 50, but times currently shown (July 29) will no longer apply.

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund


  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball
  • SD Europe