HS2

23.09.19

New open-access operator plans hourly service between Wales and London

Grand Union Trains, a new open-access train operator, has announced that they are hoping to launch a train service between Wales and London in May 2021.

Initially the trains will run every two hours, but plans are to make them hourly by May 2023.

The announcement brings with it the potential of 150 new jobs to Wales and is also offering to invest in Severn Tunnel Junction station.

Proposals have been applied to the Office of Rail and Road, asking for permission to begin work on the initial two-hourly trains between Cardiff Central and London Paddington from May 2021.

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The new route will cut the current average journey time between Cardiff and London by 20 minutes, with a target journey time of 1 hour 45 mins. Services will be operated by 125mph electric trains previously belonging to the main line between London and Edinburgh.

In addition to the trains, plans include a new access road to the station from the M4, addressing a number of traffic issues both on the motorway around Newport and in the village of Rogiet.

By May 2023, the service would be expanded to run every hour and start from Llanelli using new Hitachi trains like the ones now operated by Great Western Railway. The service would stop at Swansea but omit all stations from there to Cardiff Central.

The firm have promised that the trains will be ‘affordable and accessible for everyone’ and promise a 50% refund for passengers who have to stand up during the trip.

Grand Union is working with express freight specialist InterCity RailFreight to explore the option of carrying parcels, from fresh seafood to medical goods for the NHS. Vital samples would be in London less than two hours after leaving Cardiff with no delay from traffic jams on the roads.

InterCity RailFreight has been using scheduled passenger trains since 2013 to transport time-critical medical samples between the East Midlands and London, reducing the time between a sample being obtained and the clinic receiving the test results.

In recent years the company has also booked space on GWR trains from Cornwall and Devon for rapid delivery of freshly-caught seafood to London.

Grand Union managing director Ian Yeowart said the company aimed to create a parcel concentration hub at a Welsh station.

He explained: “Severn Tunnel Junction, when upgraded, would appear to offer the best hub location but if the process is successful then further hubs could be located at many stations.

“There would also need to be a facility at the London end but that could be off the station.”

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