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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 18:00 GMT
Rail newcomer wins service battle
Grand Central train
Grand Central has promised refunds for passengers forced to stand
A new UK train company has won its battle to provide new services linking North East England to London.

Grand Central's plans to run three direct trains a day between Sunderland and London have won approval from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).

But the decision marked a defeat for East Coast Mainline operator GNER, which had hoped to increase its services between London and Leeds.

The ORR also granted an extension to a Hull-to-London service by Hull Trains.

The firm will be able to continue its service, provided that capacity is available on the line.

However, a further application from Grand Central to provide trains to Bradford was turned down.

Direct link

Under the accepted plans, Grand Central trains will call at Hartlepool and Eaglescliffe, on the edge of Middlesbrough, as well as Thirsk - none of which currently have a direct link to London.

The new service is expected to begin operating in early 2007.

The company has said the most expensive return fares will be 60 from London to Sunderland or 55 to Hartlepool, with anyone made to stand on board promised a 50% refund.

ORR chief executive Bill Emery said the group had come to its decision following "careful consideration" of the companies' proposals.

"We have had to consider how to balance the interests of rail users in different parts of Yorkshire and the North East and to take account of the effect of new services on the GNER franchise, as well as other passenger and freight operators," he said.

"Given the limited capacity available, we believe that our decision offers the best overall outcome and will bring significant benefits to passengers on the route. "

However, the ORR did offer a glimmer of hope for GNER by pledging to examine current timetables to see whether further new services could be introduced.

GNER expressed disappointed at the decision, and said extra Leeds-London services would have created close to two million more seats a year for East Coast Main Line passengers.

It also claimed, that in reaching its final decision, the ORR had "moved the goalposts" by raising, for the first time, the issue of track capacity between Peterborough and Doncaster.




SEE ALSO:
Passengers support extra services
10 Feb 06 |  Bradford
Direct London train for Wrexham
01 Feb 06 |  North East Wales
Decision close over rail services
27 Jan 06 |  Bradford
Legal row looming over rail plans
23 Jan 06 |  Bradford
Plans for quick links to capital
16 Feb 05 |  Bradford


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