Grand Union would run non-stop service to Bristol Parkway



Open access entrepreneur Ian Yeowart is planning a new London-Cardiff service that would provide the first competition to Great Western Railway since privatisation 25 years ago.

A notification to the Office of Rail and Road shows that Yeowart’s new open access company, Grand Union, is developing proposals for an hourly service running non-stop to Bristol Parkway before calling at Severn Tunnel Junction, Newport and Cardiff Central. Grand Union is aiming to start operating from December 2020 using Class 91/DVT sets due to be cascaded from the East Coast Main Line.

It is understood that running non-stop to Bristol Parkway would give Grand Union a competitive journey time against Great Western Railway’s Intercity Express trains when they start operating on the route. Features of Grand Union’s proposals that would offer new services to passengers include direct trains to London from Severn Tunnel Junction in South Wales and investment in the station to create a parkway facility. In addition, the service would fill a gap in GWR’s expansion plans by increasing extra services to Cardiff significantly.

Grand Union’s plans also include using space in the trainsets’ DVT trailers to carry light freight.

Yeowart set up Grand Union after leaving Arriva-owned Alliance Rail last year. Commenting on the prospects for his latest venture gaining approval, he said: “The regulator said he wanted more competition; he said if you pay an infrastructure cost charge it will help you pass the ‘Not Primarily Abstractive Test’; let’s see whether or not he’s right.”

Yeowart’s ventures during a 20-year career developing open access services include founding Grand, Central, which started operating London-Sunderland services on the East Coast Main Line in 2007, and Alliance Rail whose GNWR proposal has won approval to start operating London-Blackpool services on the West Coast Main Line in September.

Further coverage appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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