There is a new start-up in town on the railway scene, as Grand Union – with its cleverly chosen evocative name – is looking to start running some new rail services from 2021.
The niche it has spotted? Trains to London from smaller stations in Scotland and Wales, with the longest line linking Stirling to London, but with the crucial difference that it ignores Glasgow and Edinburgh in favour of going direct, stopping at such previously unheralded and unserved Scots stations as Larbert, Greenfaulds, Whifflet, Motherwell and Lockerbie, before hitting the better connected English stations from Carlisle and Preston onwards and downwards.
Grand Union has also asked the Office of Rail and Road if it can run an open access service linking South Wales to London, which, like the Scotland line, would see a fleet of Class 91 locomotives, or the InterCity 225 as it's known in fully assembled mode, from the East Coast Main Line used to link lesser-served Welsh stations to the big city.
Open access rules currently allow the Heathrow Express and Hull Trains to slot their services in on the nation's lines without being full, standalone franchises. Grand Union's MD Ian Yeowart is promising to contribute to station upgrades along the line too, and 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]
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