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Railhub Archive
2004-10-27 GCR-001
Office of Rail Regulation


New service proposals to introduce high speed trains from Sunderland and the Durham coast to London and improved Cross-Pennine services for the Calder Valley

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Office of Rail Regulation
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Office of Rail Regulation

New service proposals to introduce high speed trains from Sunderland and the Durham coast to London and improved Cross-Pennine services for the Calder Valley

27 October 2004
source Office of Rail Regulation
type Press release

note ORR/20/04

Grand Central Railway Company Ltd. ( Grand Central ) is a York-based company, which plans to launch new high quality train services across the Pennines and from the North East to London. These new services will be operated on a fully commercial basis, without any Government subsidy.

o New service promises new routes, more trains & cheaper fares
o Substantial reductions in First Class fares for business travellers
o Planned service increased to two routes with 14 trains a day
o High speed train services for Sunderland, Hartlepool Eaglescliffe (for Middlesbrough) and Thirsk, with more services for Northallerton and York.
o New express services for the Calder Valley providing a direct link between the historic cities of York and Chester.

Grand Central has made significant changes to its earlier passenger rail service proposals and has replaced its previously proposed Newcastle-Manchester service with two major new services: a high speed service linking Sunderland and Durham coast stations with London and a Cross-Pennine service, using 90mph rolling stock, linking the historic cities of York and Chester.

These changes follow the decision in June 2004, by outgoing Rail Regulator Tom Winsor to reject Grand Central’s planned high-quality Cross-Pennine train service. This decision was based on the view that most of the important journey flows were already well served by existing operators, and that the planned HST service offered little in the way of improvements on what was already provided.

Whilst not accepting this argument, Grand Central noted the detailed comments contained in the Grand Central decision, and also the comments in the document that gave approval to an increase in the frequency of Hull Trains services from Hull to London. Comments in these two documents on new journey opportunities, coupled with the Government’s recent Rail Review, have led to the development of Grand Central’s revised service proposals.

As a result, Grand Central has made a request to Network Rail for train paths to operate across two routes, both offering a high proportion of new journey opportunities, with improved connectional opportunities for passengers, and still offering new services to many of the communities that lost out by Tom Winsor’s decision.

125mph high-speed inter-city trains will operate from Sunderland to London, with a planned frequency of four per day in each direction. These trains will be fully equipped offering:

o Increased legroom
o Increased luggage space
o Increased cycle space
o Restaurant and buffet facilities

Services will stop at Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe, Northallerton, Thirsk and York, before operating non-stop to London.

90mph express trains will operate from York to Chester, with a planned frequency of three per day in each direction. These trains will benefit from:

o Increased legroom
o Increased luggage space
o Fixed buffet facilities

Subject to agreeing its timetable with Network Rail and to final approval by the Office of Rail Regulation, Grand Central aims to begin operations in December 2005.

Grand Central has been pleased by the positive feedback received from Rail Passenger Committees, Passenger Transport Executives, Local Authorities, MPs and user groups following the decision in June, and this has helped in the formulation of the new proposals.

Ian Yeowart, Managing Director of Grand Central, comments:

We have been extremely heartened by the support we received following the decision in June, and this new proposal is the culmination of many months work following that decision. While the current East Coast Franchisee offers an excellent service, it is also true that in the eight years that this franchise has operated, Durham Coast stations and Teeside have seen no improvements in their services, and we intend to put that matter right!

In addition, we have always been aware of the poor service provision to some stations in the Calder Valley, a situation that should have been addressed when the Trans-Pennine Express Franchise was awarded. There is now emerging a large number of quality rail vehicles that can operate our planned services, offering excellent ride quality and accommodation, in many cases better than some recently introduced new trains.

27 October 2004

Railhub Archive ::: 2004-10-27 GCR-001


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