FirstGroup plans open access from Rochdale

FirstGroup has unveiled plans to provide open access services between Rochdale and London.

First already runs open access services from Hull and Edinburgh, and says the trains for the new service will be built in Britain.

An application has been submitted to the Office of Rail and Road to provide six daily return journeys between Rochdale and London, calling at Manchester Victoria ,Eccles, Newton-le-Willows and Warrington Bank Quay. Some of the intermediate stations would also be convenient for other places, such as Eccles for other parts of Salford, and Newton-le-Willows for St Helens.

A consultation period will now follow, as well as discussions with Network Rail. If the application is successful, the service could start in 2027.

FirstGroup chief executive officer Graham Sutherland said: ‘We have extensive experience of running open access rail operations and we want to bring our successful Lumo service to this new route that connects Rochdale and London.

‘We have seen the level of growth and opportunity that is possible with open access, as well as the positive effect it has on the wider market, including economic and environmental benefits. In addition, the new service will help to drive modal shift from road to rail between the North West and London. We will be working closely with stakeholders as we build our application and our case for this new service.’

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