Rail regulators have said they want to gauge public opinion before approving plans for a new company to run train services between Yorkshire and London.
Grand Central says its trains would not need public subsidy
Grand Central wants to run trains on the East Coast Main Line in competition with existing operator GNER.
The three daily direct services to the capital from Bradford, Halifax and York would be run without public money.
But GNER argues that it needs the extra capacity to run more services promised in its franchise agreement last year.
The Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) said it was minded to approve the plans but wanted to give people the chance to make their views known before making a final decision.
The approval would mean applications from GNER for additional services to Leeds and from Grand Central to serve Bradford would be turned down.
Chief executive of the ORR Bill Emery said they had to balance the interests of rail users in Yorkshire and the North East with the effect of new services on existing franchised services.
"We believe that the proposed decision would offer the best outcome for rail users," he said.
But GNER said it was extremely puzzled by the decision and was reviewing its options.
"It is astonishing that the ORR has rejected GNER's additional Leeds to London services as that is what the Government, in awarding the East Coast franchise, contracted GNER to deliver."
The deadline for comments is Monday 6 February.