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Railhub Archive
2006-03-23 ORR-002
Office of Rail Regulation


Office of Rail Regulation’s decision on applications for Track Access Rights necessary to operate additional passenger services on the East Coast Main Line

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Hull Trains
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Office of Rail Regulation

Office of Rail Regulation’s decision on applications for Track Access Rights necessary to operate additional passenger services on the East Coast Main Line

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23 March 2006
source Office of Rail Regulation
type Statement

1. We set out here the decision we have taken on three applications
made under the Railways Act 1993 (the Act) for rights to operate additional
passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). We have consulted
stakeholders, asked for representations on a proposed decision, conducted a
hearing and considered fully all the points raised, before reaching a final
decision on this matter. We will publish a report fully setting out the reasons
for our decision by 6 April 2006.

The applications
2. We have been considering track access applications from Great North
Eastern Railway Limited (GNER), Grand Central Railway Company Limited
(Grand Central) and Hull Trains Company Limited (Hull Trains) who asked
ORR to approve the following:

Grand Central - under section 17 of the Act
o 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 firm rights each way on
Sundays on both routes. Whilst the original application was for a fiveyear
contract, and was based on the use of existing off-lease rolling
stock, Grand Central now plans to acquire new rolling stock, and has
indicated that it would be seeking a contract for these rights for a
period of ten years.

Hull Trains - under section 22 of the Act1
o 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.

GNER - under section 22A of the Act
o 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.

The decision
3. We have made the decisions set out below on the three applications.

Hull Trains applied to ORR on 1 February 2005 to introduce these additional services
from 12 June 2005 until the end of its current contract in 2010. We explained that until we
could establish the extent of the available capacity and consider all three applications
together, we could not consider long-term rights. We initially approved the additional rights
until December 2005 (later extended to December 2006).

Grand Central
o We will approve three firm rights each way (Monday to Sunday) for
Grand Central to operate services between King’s Cross and
Sunderland calling at York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Eaglescliffe and
Hartlepool. These rights will take effect no earlier than December 2006.
o Grand Central’s access rights should enable a spread of services
through the day, but otherwise contain a degree of flexibility at the
discretion of Network Rail, subject to the exercise of the decision
criteria in part D of the Network Code. In particular, we do not expect to
approve weekday rights which entitle Grand Central to arrivals at
King’s Cross before 10:10 or to departures from King’s Cross between
16:55 and 18:40. In addition, we expect the access rights to allow for
approximately 20 minutes of pathing time between King’s Cross and
Northallerton, and vice versa.
o Grand Central’s track access contract will have a minimum term of five
years; however, given our current policy in respect of longer term
access agreements, we will be prepared to consider whether this term
should be longer if, for example, this is linked to investment in new
rolling stock.
o We expect Grand Central to use 125 mph rolling stock with
performance characteristics as good as that of HSTs;
o Grand Central’s access contract will contain an access charges review
re-opener which will take effect from 1 April 2009.
o We expect Grand Central’s contract to contain provisions requiring its
co-operation with the introduction of a standard hourly timetable on the

o Grand Central’s track access contract will be subject to it meeting the
usual statutory and safety requirements.

Hull Trains
o We will approve (until the end of its current contract in June 2010) one
additional contingent right each way (Monday to Sunday) for Hull
Trains to operate services between King’s Cross and Hull.
o This additional right will be subject to an access charges review reopener,
which will take effect from 1 April 2009.
o We shall review whether this additional right should remain contingent
or become a firm right, in the light of experience; any such change
would take effect no earlier than December 2007.

o Our ‘minded to’ decision indicated that there was insufficient capacity
to accommodate the additional rights sought by GNER, in addition to
those we proposed to grant to Grand Central and Hull Trains, without a
major recast of the timetable. We have subsequently received further
representations which suggest that this may not, after all, be the case
and that a more limited timetabling exercise may be sufficient to
identify additional capacity for some or all of the additional GNER
o Nevertheless, we have not been able to form a conclusive view.
o Accordingly, we require Network Rail to work with relevant operators
(including Grand Central, Hull Trains, GNER and existing freight
operators) to complete a timetabling exercise, as soon as possible and
no later than 30 June 2006. The exercise will:
o address, in particular, the section between Peterborough and
Doncaster (in both directions); and
o establish whether it is possible to path four GNER services
per hour (that is, including a half-hourly Leeds service) in a
way which is consistent with the planned three Grand Central
services and the one additional Hull Trains service, without
conflicting with other existing passenger and freight rights
and services on the route and any other firm plans for
services before December 2009; and
o aim to produce an interim set of adjustments to the timetable,
pending the outcome of the Route Utilisation Strategy
exercise which should address longer term passenger and
freight demands.
o If, and to the extent that, this demonstrates the potential availability of
capacity over this key route section, having regard to the existing
requirements of freight and passenger operators on the route, we
would be minded to approve contingent rights for GNER to operate up
to five additional weekday Leeds to King’s Cross services each way.
The ability of GNER to exercise these rights, and the date from which it
would be able to do this, would then be determined by the normal
timetabling criteria. These include the ability of Network Rail, working
with operators, to resolve pathing and performance issues over the
route as a whole.

Next Steps
4. Network Rail will:
o carry out the necessary timetabling work to accommodate Grand
Central’s and Hull Trains’ new access rights from December 2006;
o discuss any necessary modifications to existing access rights with
those operators whose contracts contain modification provisions, and
then notify ORR by 30 June 2006 of the changes which need to be
o complete the timetabling exercise described above, and submit it to
ORR as soon as possible and no later than 30 June 2006.

Office of Rail Regulation
23 March 2006

Railhub Archive ::: 2006-03-23 ORR-002


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