Despite the best efforts of many parties, including manufacturer ALSTOM and the DfT, Alliance has been unable to secure the necessary access to Class 390 tilting rolling stock to enable it to deliver its full Blackpool – Euston service as approved by the ORR in 2015. As a result Alliance and the ORR has agreed that its contract to run services will lapse on 30 June 2017.

In its place Alliance is seeking new approvals to operate the same number of [6] daily services between Blackpool and Euston starting in the first half of 2019 using electric Class 91 and Mark 4 rolling stock currently in use on the ECML. Positive discussions with leasing company Eversholt Rail have been on-going for some time, and services would operate with 7 passenger vehicles. These trains have a design speed of 140mph, but initially services would be restricted to 110mph while further work is undertaken on the route speed profile for non-tilt.

In order to maintain competitive end to end journey times of around 3 hours, the stopping pattern has unfortunately had to be reduced, with trains now calling only at Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes on the main line. Stops in all services at Poulton-le-Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham, an important part of the original ORR decision, are maintained.


Blackpool Consultation


Proposed Route Map


Alliance has been working closely with Network Rail on identifying the necessary train paths to allow the introduction of the first part of its new Southampton – Waterloo service during the 2018 timetable. As a result of good work by Network Rail Wessex route planners, an offer of 7 weekday return paths have been identified and offered to Alliance by Network Rail as part of the timetable planning process.

Network Rail will further respond to the ORR by the end of July in respect of the offer, and the ORR will then make a decision later in the year regarding the Alliance application to bring competition and increased capacity for the benefit of many new and existing passengers onto this important route.

Alliance will initially use Class 442 trains, with peak trains offering 600 seats on each service, with both Standard and First class accommodation provided. It is recognised that there are severe overcrowding problems on this route in the peak, and the provision of these extra services will help address the problem.


Southampton Consultation


Proposed Route Map