Grand Union, the new rail company which launched its application last month to start a Cardiff to London rail service, has expanded its plans to include more Welsh stations through to Llanelli.
Grand Union has submitted a revised application with the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) that will initially see its Cardiff to London route run every two hours when it starts in May 2021, and then increase to an hourly service in 2023 when its route also expands from Cardiff Central to Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath, Swansea, Gowerton and Llanelli.
The open access rail company’s plans have been updated and expanded following consultations with the Welsh Government, in order to further support their aspirations and plans for significant improvements in rail services to and from south Wales.
Ian Yeowart, Grand Union Managing Director said: “As soon as our initial application was made, it was clear our proposal had widespread support in Wales, particularly from the Welsh Government. As a result of our ongoing discussions together, we have been happy to review our initial plans to find the best way to support the government in delivering improved services.
“We have now submitted a revised application to the ORR and Network Rail for consultation which will see services to Cardiff extended to Swansea and Llanelli, which will increase the frequency for Swansea and give Llanelli a regular direct service to London for the first time.”
The revised timetable would initially see Cardiff to London services operate every two hours using IC225 train sets, which are currently operating the flagship routes on the East Coast Main Line. This service will initially call at Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction, Bristol Parkway and then express to London Paddington. It will also stop at Cardiff Parkway when it opens.
Within two years the service would run hourly, and the IC225 train sets would be replaced with a fleet of new build Hitachi Class 802 bi-mode trains to deliver the extended service from Cardiff Central to Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway, Neath, Swansea, Gowerton and Llanelli.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We welcome the ambitions being shown by Grand Union Trains to introduce a new, fast, limited stop, high quality service which would provide an alternative option for passengers to travel between the two capital cities.
“We encourage all partners to continue to collaborate to ensure that any plans complement and support the current rail service and the existing plan to improve transport links for South Wales.
“We call on the UK Government to offer support for development of this service which could deliver significant benefits to the economy, the environment, and to travellers on both sides of the border.”
Mr Yeowart added: “Colleagues at Eversholt Rail have been very supportive and pro-active in helping Grand Union develop this important change to our plans, and we are looking forward to discussing with stakeholders the layout, seating and interior that our new trains will have, coupled with the significant economic benefits that these new services will bring to Wales.”