Pray there’s no penalties – or Wigan and City fans won’t be seeing them! No late trains for FA Cup final, confirm Virgin

By Colin Henrys

There will be no extra trains for Manchester City and Wigan Athletic fans after next month’s FA Cup final, Virgin Trains have confirmed.

The Football Association yesterday confirmed the Wembley showpiece would kick off at 5.15pm, but with no trains running to Manchester after nine o’clock fans could end up stuck in London.

And Virgin – who run the services from London Euston – admitted the late kick-off will pose difficulties for visiting supporters.

“We have had a direct dialogue with both the FA and Wembley Stadium that if teams from the North West were to be involved at Wembley, a 17:15 kick off would mean supporters would be unable to return that evening,” they said in a statement.

“Because of the possibility of extra time and penalties, Wigan and Manchester City supporters will be unlikely to see the end of the match and catch any advertised return service back to Wigan or Manchester that evening.

“The railway for longer distance travel on the West Coast Main Line closes earlier on a Saturday to give Network Rail sufficient time to carry out essential maintenance and inspections on Western Europe’s busiest mixed-traffic railway.”

The last train to Wigan North Western from London Euston leaves at 20:31 and the final service to Manchester Piccadilly departs at 21:00.

With fans also having to factor in travel from Wembley to the station – which is advertised as a 33-minute journey without queuing – it leaves little time for fans to get home.

Supporters would also probably have to miss the trophy presentation too, but Virgin explained the situation was out of their control.

“The unpredictability of exactly when the match will end, coupled with the earlier close down of the route for essential maintenance and inspection means the planning of any additional services is extremely difficult,” they said.

“We would much rather everyone fully understands the position well in advance so  they can make their plans accordingly.

“We appreciate the FA have major commercial considerations in agreeing to a teatime kick off, but to be fair to all concerned we thought they should be made aware of the situation as soon as possible.

“There are specialised train charter companies separate from Virgin Trains who might be prepared to run a special service. They would need to discuss with Network Rail timings and routes.”

Picture courtesy of Andrew Butcher, via Wikimedia Commons, with thanks. 

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