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Railhub Archive
2006-01-27 ORR-001
Office of Rail Regulation


New intercity services proposed for Sunderland and Teesside

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Grand Central
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Office of Rail Regulation

New intercity services proposed for Sunderland and Teesside

27 January 2006
source Office of Rail Regulation
type Press release

note ORR/02/06. Includes additional material dated 1 and 16 February 2006.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said today that it was minded to approve access rights for three new daily direct services between Sunderland and London. The services, which would also provide new direct journeys to London from Thirsk, Northallerton, Eaglescliffe (for Teesside) and Hartlepool, would be run by a new ‘open-access’ company, Grand Central. If the decision is confirmed, it is expected that services will start operation in early 2007.

Grand Central would become the second open-access operator (with Hull Trains) providing passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). ORR has also said it is minded to approve continuation of a currently temporary access right for one Hull Trains service daily between London and Hull provided capacity is available.

The proposed decision would mean that the applications from Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) for additional rights to serve Leeds and from Grand Central to serve Bradford would be turned down. However, ORR anticipates that when Network Rail has completed the Route Utilisation Strategy for the ECML, it should be possible to accommodate additional passenger services on this busy route without compromising the interests of freight operators. We are asking Network Rail to prioritise this work.

Bill Emery, ORR Chief Executive, said:

“We have considered the proposals for additional services carefully in light of our statutory duties. We have had to consider how to balance the interests of rail users in different parts of Yorkshire and the North East and take account of the effect of new services on existing franchised services. We believe that the proposed decision would offer the best outcome for rail users. It would bring significant benefits to passengers on the route and particularly to those areas that would receive a new direct service connecting them with London as well as the more general benefits arising from the promotion of competition on the network.”

Before reaching its final decision, ORR is seeking comments on its proposed decision. The deadline for comments is midday on Monday 6 February and ORR aims to publish its final conclusions shortly thereafter.

1 February 2006

Since publishing last Friday our proposed decision on access applications for services on the East Coast Main Line, ORR has been asked to extend the deadline for responses beyond midday on 6 February 2006, in view of the complexity of the issues involved. We have considered this request, mindful of the need to give parties sufficient time to consider our proposed decision and to make proper representations. We are also conscious of the need for a decision as soon as possible so as to allow Network Rail to incorporate the decision into the timetable formulation process for the December 2006 timetable. Accordingly, we have decided to extend the deadline by one week - all representations should now be submitted to ORR by midday on 13 February 2006.

16 February 2006

We have received many representations on our "minded to decision" and established that there are some issues which need further discussion and clarification. As a result we do not expect a final decision until mid March.

Notes for editors

ORR’s proposed decision on applications for the track access rights necessary to operate additional passenger services on the East Coast Main Line is published today and is available from the ORR website here
ORR has considered three applications for new or increased passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). It has also taken into account a report by Network Rail (available here) on the availability of capacity to meet the needs of all three operators, and an economic appraisal of the applications carried out for ORR by consultants Arup (to be published in due course). ORR consulted the parties to the applications and industry stakeholders throughout this process.
The three applications were:
a) GNER - under section 22A of the Railways Act 1993 (the Act) - Additional contingent rights for five weekday Leeds - King's Cross services each way which would be used together with existing rights to operate a half-hourly off-peak service between London and Leeds.
b) Grand Central - under section 17 of the Act - Firm rights for four services each way Monday to Saturday between Sunderland and King's Cross and a further four firm rights each way between Bradford and King's Cross, with three each way on Sundays on both routes.
c) Hull Trains - under section 22 of the Act - Firm rights for a sixth weekday path and fifth Saturday path and contingent rights for a fourth Sunday path each way between Hull and King's Cross.
ORR is minded to conclude that it should approve:
a) three firm rights each way (Monday to Sunday) for Grand Central to operate services between London King's Cross and Sunderland calling at York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Eaglescliffe (for Teesside), and Hartlepool; and
b) one additional contingent right each way (Monday to Sunday) for Hull Trains to operate services between London King's Cross and Hull. Subject to Network Rail being able to timetable this contingent right, this should permit Hull Trains to continue to operate its current level of service.
ORR does not believe there is sufficient available capacity to accommodate GNER’s proposals, or Grand Central’s proposed services to Bradford at this time without significant changes to many existing services operating on the ECML.
ORR is also minded to require the inclusion of modification provisions in the track access contracts which we expect to approve between Network Rail and Central Trains, Thameslink Rail, Midland Main Line and GNER. This will allow the rights in those contracts to be adjusted to enable Network Rail to identify suitable paths for Grand Central, with minimum disruption to the services of other operators.
When ORR exercises its functions under Part 1 of the Act, it is governed by its statutory duties and it is for ORR to decide how to balance them in reaching a decision. ORR has considered all its statutory duties in reaching the proposed decision and considered that the following were particularly relevant:
a) Section 4(1)(zb) - to promote improvements in railway service performance;
b) Section 4(1)(a) - to protect the interests of users of railway services;
c) Section 4(1)(b) - to promote the use and development of the railway network for the carriage of passengers and freight;
d) Section 4(1)(d) - to promote competition for the benefit of users of railway services;
e) Section 4(1)(g) - to enable providers of railway services to plan the future of their businesses with a reasonable degree of assurance;
f) Section 4(3)(a) - to take into account safety considerations; and
g) Section 4(5)(c) - to have regard to the funds available to the Secretary of State.
Press enquiries

ORR Press Office – 020 7282 2007/2141
Out of office – 07659 127 303

Railhub Archive ::: 2006-01-27 ORR-001


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