12 June 2014

Great North Western Railway Company (GNWR) has today announced it has come to agreement with Network Rail on the sale of access rights to begin the operation of two new direct, look high speed rail services from the North of England to London using the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Following the period of industry consultation (which is now underway and due to finish in early July), the access contract needs only final approval from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) so that the new trains can be ordered, and the recruitment process can begin.

The key features of the GNWR proposal are:

Six return trains a day between London and Blackpool – starting in 2017

Six return trains a day between London and Huddersfield via Manchester Victoria and then continuing on to Leeds – starting in 2018

Investment in a fleet of eight new Alstom Pendolino trains

More than 200 new jobs created for this operation, plus significant wider economic benefits across the towns and cities served.

Ian Yeowart, managing director of GNWR: “It has taken a significant amount of work since our initial application in 2011 to get to this point where Network Rail has agreed to the sale of access rights. There is still some way to go following full approval, as new rolling stock needs to be ordered and a full recruitment process needs to be undertaken. The target dates for operation are set to coincide with the full electrification of the two routes”.

The initial application was to serve four routes, the two listed and also routes to Bradford and the Cumbrian Coast, but with potential timetable and performance impacts on the WCML route, Network Rail is not in a position to agree further access rights at this time

Ian Yeowart continued: “Disappointingly not all our services are deliverable at the moment, but we will continue to engage with Network Rail to try and secure the capacity we need to address the issue in the future. A similar situation was faced by sister company Grand Central in 2006 when it began services to Sunderland from an application that included Sunderland and Bradford. Despite being rejected at the time, Bradford services began three years later ”