An application to run a new rail service between Stirling and London has been officially submitted by Grand Union to the Office of Rail and Road.
The proposed service would run four times a day starting from May 2021, and would start at Stirling, calling at Larbert, Greenfaulds, Whifflet, Motherwell and Lockerbie in Scotland and then Carlisle, Preston, Crewe, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes, terminating at London Euston.
This route would link towns which have limited or no long-distance cross border train services into the wider rail network, providing improved connectivity in Scotland as well as competitive services for some stations on the West Coast Main Line. The route would enable passengers to avoid traveling through the congested hubs of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Grand Union is proposing to base the new operation in Scotland where the trains would be maintained, with an additional base at Preston or Crewe to operate the southern end of the route. The new operation is expected to create approximately 100 new and permanent full-time roles.
Director of Marketing and Development David Prescott said:
“This new train services will transform the connectivity of a number of significant and rapidly changing Scottish towns along the Scottish Central corridor from Stirling through Falkirk and Lanarkshire. Each station has been chosen because of the benefits and opportunities it brings. Grand Union’s service will open up tourism opportunities, improve business options, provide new leisure travel opportunities and help reduce people’s reliance on air travel.
“We will be able to provide people a faster and more comfortable journey and eliminate the need to change trains by avoiding Glasgow and Edinburgh, meaning people will be able to complete the journey from Stirling to London in just over five and a half hours.
“We are planning to start discussions with Transport Scotland, local authorities and ScotRail to discuss how we can invest in station upgrades at Larbert, Greenfaulds, Whifflet and Lockerbie to improve passenger and staff facilities, matching these stations with standards along Intercity train routes.”
Grand Union will use Class 91 locomotives, with up to 9 Mark 4 coaches and a Driving Van Trailer on each of its trains, which are currently operating on the East Coast Main Line. The trains will be available for crew and route training, ramping up from the autumn of 2020 to when the service would start in May 2021.
Each train will have good leg room and luggage space, a fixed buffet and kitchen providing a range of catering options for passengers. They will also include significant space for carrying bicycles, which are critical for the Scottish tourist market.
Like Grand Union’s other proposed rail route, from South Wales to London, Grand Union will also offer its unique seat guarantee to passengers, ensuring a seat is part of the ticket price for journeys over 30 minutes, offering passengers a 50% discount or refund if they are unable to provide one.
Another repeated feature will be their partnership with Intercity Railfreight to transport light and urgent freight by utilising empty space in the non-passenger part of the train, including refrigerated space to move urgent NHS biological materials.
Managing Director Ian Yeowart said:
“Grand Union’s service will give passengers greater choice, improved connectivity and better access to transport options. This will bring many benefits to the area and we are working hard to make our proposed Stirling to London route a reality.”
Grand Union submitted its formal application this week to gain access to the route’s tracks. Under track access rules, other rail operators are able to provide a service if a route is not deemed congested, and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) approves an application. Since the privatisation of the West Coast Main Line in March 1997, there has been no competition over the full-length of the route until this summer.
For more information about Grand Union and its proposed Stirling to London service visit www.granduniontrains.com.