Wales

Trains to London: Proposal for faster service from Cardiff

Cardiff Central station Image copyright Seth Whales
Image caption Grand Union said it would get to London Paddington from Cardiff in 90 minutes

A new express train service would cut journey times from Cardiff to London by 20 minutes if it is given the go-ahead.

The proposed open-access service by Grand Union Trains would run alongside current Great Western Railway trains to Paddington station.

Operating on the south Wales mainline, the service would stop at fewer stations, making it a quicker journey.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said it was aware of the proposal and early talks had started.

The hourly service would operate between London Paddington and Cardiff Central and could be live by December 2020.

It would stop at Severn Tunnel Junction in Monmouthshire, a station which is not currently served by Great Western's London service.

The service would run from Cardiff Central, to Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway, then to London Paddington. It will also stop at Cardiff Parkway when it opens.

Image caption Ian Yeowart has successfully operated similar rail services before

Grand Union said their service would take one and a half hours - by not stopping at Swindon, Didcot and Reading - in comparison to Great Western's half-hourly service, which takes more than two hours.

The firm's managing director Ian Yeowart said: "The trains we offer will be faster, more comfortable, we'll offer some competition so that will have a downward pressure on price.

"We look for places that deserve a better rail service and can support a better rail service."

Trains will operate with nine coaches, offering first class, standard class and a buffet car.

Mr Yeowart said he has also been in talks with the Welsh Government about other improvements to rail services.

"We're not just talking about trains, we're also talking about potential infrastructure at Severn Tunnel Junction and at Cardiff Central Station so there's a lot of exciting things to happen," he added.

"We also plan to base the entire operation in south Wales so there would be about 135 new jobs to come into the area if we're successful."

Image copyright Google
Image caption The new train service would not call at Swindon, Didcot and Reading

They propose using second-hand 140mph (225 km/h) trains formed of nine coaches and a driving trailer, which have been used by London and North Eastern Railway on the East Coast Main Line.

Prof Stuart Cole, a former director of Wales Transport Research Centre at the University of Glamorgan, said Mr Yeowart had a "proven record" in this field.

"He's been in this business before, last time it was very successful," he said.

"He's gone for the most profitable and busiest part of the line, it's extra trains on the market and we can see what prices come to the market."

Ken Skates, the Welsh Government's minister for economy and transport, said: "[We] welcome the ambition being shown by Grand Union Trains to address this by proposing the operation of a new, fast, limited stop, high quality service which would provide an alternative option for passengers to travel between the two capital cities."

Under track access rules, other rail operators are able to provide a service if a route is not deemed congested, and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) approves an application.

The application will now be subject to a 28 day consultation period.

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