- Freight services
- Grand Union
- Grand Union’s application and the wider network
- London to Cardiff route
The current system of running railways in the UK needs to change: the standard, long running franchise model is no longer delivering for rail-users or taxpayers.
Because Grand Union is independently owned and relies on ticket sales to operate, it will do things differently, continuously seeking ways to improve and innovate to serve the needs of its customers.
We will drive value for money for passengers and taxpayers by providing more choice for rail-users, as well as providing a more personal, customer-focussed train service, responsive to passengers on safety, price transparency, improved connectivity and the whole journey experience.
We will strive to set new standards for others to follow, helping to drive up the quality for rail services in the UK.
We are committed to providing a freight service on our rail service, along with passenger journeys, to relieve the pressure on road transportation of small quantity fast-moving consumer goods. By working with logistic specialist colleagues at Intercity Railfreight, we will utilise empty space in the non-passenger part of our trains to provide a new, reliable freight moving option for businesses.
This once traditional rail service that was lost with the fragmentation of the railways is steadily being restored, and we are committed to helping that restoration. By doing so we can help take diesel burning vans and lorries off the road with no impact on passengers and no delays in service.
We will only employ people as passionate as we are about providing the best possible rail service. We want to attract the best and most motivated staff possible who are keen to be a part of a growing and dedicated team. Employees will be our front line, and as well as supporting them with an attractive salary package, we will look to empower them to make the right decisions at the right time for both our passengers and our business.
All staff will be properly trained and empowered to take control of situations that arise on trains to ensure the safety and comfort of staff and passengers. As we grow, Grand Union will develop the next generation of skilled railways workers by investing in each team member’s skills and personal training, empowering them to provide exceptional customer service.
The majority of the team, including management, train crew and others, will be based in South Wales.
Every Grand Union train will have a fully trained guard on board and all other on-board staff will be trained in relevant safety procedures. Encouraging a safety culture based on positive learning and not blame will be at the heart of how we operate.
We expect approximately 135 new and permanent full-time post will be created.
We will be announcing details about our recruitment process later in the year, pending the approval of our application, but any early expressions of interest can be forwarded in confidence at this time.
Grand Union will offer a range of advance fares, bringing some competitive pressure to this important market. We also understand that people often make last minute decisions or plans change, so passengers will be able to buy tickets onboard the train and use a railcard to do so if they have one.
Our open tickets (available for any Grand Union train) will be around 25% cheaper than the current inter-available fares (available for any train) on the route. For more regular travellers, Grand Union will also offer ‘carnet’ tickets, a book of 10 discounted tickets for use in either direction between two points on our services.
We will always seek to provide the best possible value for money on ticketing, attracting passengers who currently cannot afford rail travel and reducing costs for businesses.
Our trains will be reliable, comfortable, and with more seat space and leg-room than other providers, with good space for luggage too. Having a full complement of staff on every journey, we will value every single one of our passengers, constantly looking to improve the quality of our customer service.
Passengers rightly expect to receive a seat for a journey to and from London – and a seat will be part of the ticket price for all London journeys. If we cannot provide a seat on a particular journey, we will refund a standing passenger 50% of their ticket price for that journey, or if they buy a ticket onboard, discount their ticket at the time of purchase.
The initial service will call at Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway, then express to London Paddington. The service will also stop at Cardiff Parkway once it is opened.
We propose to extend the service in 2023, which will extend the calling points from Cardiff Central to Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath, Swansea, Gowerton and Llanelli.
Grand Union trains will cut the current average journey time between London and Cardiff by 20 minutes – similar to the average journey time saving offered by HS2 between London and Birmingham.
Our aim is to have the first trains running by May 2021.
Grand Union is working with Eversholt Rail Limited to lease a fleet of InterCity 225s that are currently running the flagship services on the East Coast Main Line between London, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The recently refurbished 225 fleet will be re-configured, refreshed and reliveried.
The Welsh Government supports the proposal and has forwarded a letter of support to a number of institutions.
Grand Union has started to actively engage with the business community in South Wales and with the local councils, MPs and community groups in the areas where we will operate. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more and meeting with Grand Union.
We are working with a number of parties on investment plans for Severn Tunnel Junction station to improve the access, the passenger facilities and experience, car park capacity, bike store facilities and freight/parcels handling.
We will use the unused space within the DVT to carry freight items. This may also include refrigerated space for the rapid movement of NHS biological items. We will work with our partners Intercity Railfreight to provide this service for fast-moving consumer goods to businesses.
By providing businesses with this new frequent and fast freight service, there will be less need to transport items via diesel burning vans and lorries. This will help to relieve pressure on road transportation and is good for the environment.
Grand Union is working with the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on our operating license. On Friday 14 June, Grand Union submitted a Form P with the ORR for a passenger track access agreement. Then on 18 July, Grand Union submitted an updated Form P. This then restarted the 28-day consultation period for the ORR to gather feedback on our proposal.
Under track access rules, other providers are able to apply to provide a service if a route is not deemed congested and the ORR approves an application.
Significant investment is being made into the Great Western Main Line with the intention of increasing track capacity and speeding up services. Grand Union proposes a non-stop service between Bristol Parkway and Paddington (re-creating the fast intercity services that BR operated in the 1980s), and less station calls means less opportunity for delays. Our trains are full line speed, and there is no more reason to think Grand Union’s small number of extra services would cause delays than would the additional services proposed by the franchise.
Yes. Grand Union accepts the ORR’s revised Infrastructure Cost Charges (ICCs) which will considerably increase the contribution that Open Access Operators, like Grand Union, make to funding the network, alongside potential further direct infrastructure investment in proposed schemes at Cardiff and Severn Tunnel Junction.