Low fare rail firm plans services to north

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The Independent Online

Plans for "no-frills" high-speed rail services between London and towns in West Yorkshire and north-east England were unveiled yesterday.

Grand Central Railway hopes to launch the new routes at the end of this year provided it gets the go-ahead from Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). The company, founded by Ian Yeowart, a former British Rail manager, is proposing four direct services a day between Bradford and London and Sunderland and London via the east coast main line. It is also planning a cross-Pennine service linking Chester and York.

The Bradford-London service would stop at Halifax, Brighouse (near Huddersfield) and Wakefield before connecting to the east coast main line at Doncaster, while services from Sunderland would run along the Durham Coast line, stopping at Hartlepool, before joining the mainline at North Allerton.

The company, which says it has backing from a large but unnamed private-sector transport company, will use refurbished carriages from Virgin Trains and locomotives owned by the freight operator English Welsh and Scottish Railways. Mr Yeowart said fares would be up to 50 per cent cheaper than those offered by rivals such as GNER.

A previous application by Grand Central to launch inter-city services to Sunderland and a trans-Pennine route was rejected last year by the ORR on the grounds that it would not result in a sufficiently number of new services but take passengers from existing operators.

Mr Yeowart said that "70 per cent of the journeys operated will be new services". Grand Central expects to hear whether it has regulatory approval in June.