Open access enthusiasm grows, as Arriva joins in

Another operator is bidding to expand the range of open access services.

Arriva, which owns Grand Central, says an application has been submitted to the Office of Rail and Road to run two additional daily return services between Bradford and London, with up to eight intermediate station calls. This would bring the daily total of trains on the route to six.

It is also proposing to run a new early morning York-London journey, with a return working in the late evening, as well as providing four new daily calls on its Sunderland route at Seaham in County Durham, which would give the town direct London trains for the first time.

Arriva UK managing director David Brown said: ‘These proposals would bring more services and choice to passengers, building on the success of Grand Central’s open access operations, which connect a number of under-served communities in both the North East and West Yorkshire to London. This is a growth opportunity for the railway and a positive development for passengers and for our colleagues at Grand Central. By delivering additional services through open access, we can encourage more train travel, which is good for the environment and for communities, helping to ensure Britain’s rail system can thrive long into the future.’

The move by Arriva to expand Grand Central follows several other open access developments in recent months.

Grand Union has already gained a licence to run between London and Carmarthen, but on 7 March the ORR approved another application from GU, this time between London Euston and Stirling via Larbert, Greenfaulds and Whifflet.

A week later, Alstom and SLC Rail submitted an open access proposal to the ORR for services between London, Shropshire and Wrexham, recalling the former Wrexham and Shropshire operation but using London Euston rather than Marylebone, approaching London on the West Coast Main Line from Nuneaton and Milton Keynes.

On 17 May FirstGroup unveiled plans for more open access services on the West Coast Main Line between Rochdale and London Euston, which would also be branded Lumo. There would be six daily return journeys.

The latest development until Arriva’s proposals had been an application from Virgin for new services from London Euston to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

The Conservatives are in favour of private sector rail operators in general, while Labour has said that if it is elected open access services would continue, but potentially under new guidance to the ORR from the transport secretary.

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