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West Coast Mainline

The West Coast Mainline (WCML) is one of the most important intercity railway lines in the United Kingdom, part of the British railway system. It begins at Euston station in central London and links London to Glasgow but also links several of the UK's largest cities and towns on the way, including Milton Keynes, Northampton, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Manchester, Liverpool, Lancaster and Carlisle.

The line was built in parts between the 1830s and the 1860s with the first parts being the Grand Junction Railway (Warrington - Birmingham) and then the London and Birmingham Railway, both completed in the 1830s.

Despite its somewhat confusing singular name, the WCML is not a single railway line, but a series of interconnecting railway lines.

For instance there are two rail routes between Birmingham and Manchester, one which goes via Crewe, and one via Stoke-on-Trent, but both are part of the West Coast Mainline.

The line was modernised and electrified in the 1960s. It is currently undergoing a major upgrade along almost its entire length. The original plans estimated that this upgrade would cost 2bn, be ready by 2005, cut journey times to Birmingham to one hour (currently 1hr 40mins) and 1hr 45mins to Manchester. After a series of setbacks, in particular the bankruptcy of Railtrack, the revised estimates indicate that the cost will 10bn, be ready by 2008, Birmingham journey times will be 1hr 10mins and 2hrs to Manchester.

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