Trains Scotland: New train service between London and Stirling given go ahead

Grand Union Trains has previously pledged to offer passengers first class-style 2+1 reclining seats in standard class as it won approval for a new service between London and central Scotland

A new train service between London and central Scotland has been given the go-ahead.

Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said it has approved an application by Grand Union Trains to operate four daily return services between London Euston and the city of Stirling. They will provide more competition for several operators such as LNER and Avanti West Coast.

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The ORR said it found the plan submitted by Grand Union Trains would increase choice for passengers and significantly increase direct journey options between London and both central and southern Scotland, while making use of existing capacity on the network.

Stirling Castle on a wintry dayStirling Castle on a wintry day
Stirling Castle on a wintry day

The regulator’s director of strategy, policy and reform Stephanie Tobyn said: “Our decision helps increase services for passengers and boost competition on Britain’s railway network. By providing more trains serving new destinations, open access operators offer passengers more choice in the origin and price of their journey, leading to better outcomes for rail users.”

In December 2022, the ORR approved an application by Grand Union Trains to launch a new service between London Paddington and Carmarthen. The operator said it would announce a start date for this route once it receives likely delivery dates from train suppliers.

Grand Union Trains will run on an open access basis, meaning it will receive no taxpayer-funded subsidies and take on all revenue risk. It will be the first open access operator on the West Coast Main Line.

Most train operators in England are paid a management fee, with the UK Government holding responsibility for costs and revenue.

ScotRail and Transport for Wales Rail are under public ownership.

Rail minister Hew Merriman said last month the open access system “goes from strength to strength” and he plans to “speed up” the application process and attract more operators by making unused timetable slots available.

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