Open access train operator, Grand Union Trains have submitted a fresh application to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for the right to operate a new intercity train service between Carmarthen and London Paddington.
Operating 5 return services every day, the application includes a commitment to build a new ‘parkway’ station at Felindre, near M4 junction 46 north of Swansea, which will reduce journey times from Carmarthen and Llanelli to Cardiff and onto London by around 20 minutes.
Services will be operated by brand new bi-mode trains which are able to operate as electric or diesel.
Open access train operators do not get paid subsidies from the Government, unlike traditional franchised services, however they do need permission from the Government’s Office of Rail and Road for permission to operate services on specific routes.
Grand Union Trains plans will be funded by Serena Industrial Partners, a European independent investment firm committed to the development of sustainable infrastructures in the UK.
The train operator says one of the main characteristics of the new service will be its high-quality design, including improved on-board comfort such as bigger seats, more legroom and increased luggage space – as well as a buffet car available on every service, aiming to offer our users the best experience in the market.
Spanish train operator, Renfe has been named as Grand Union’s strategic partner.
Grand Union’s Proposal
• 5 return services every day between Carmarthen and London Paddington
• New parkway station to be built at Felindre, north of Swansea and next to the M4
• Upgraded facilities and improved access planned at Severn Tunnel Junction station
• Reduced journey times on the route
• High-quality offer with improved on-board comfort
• Over 125 new jobs created; the majority in Wales
Ian Yeowart, managing director of Grand Union Trains, stated: “We have been pleased to work on promoting this important service which will, for the first time, deliver significant new infrastructure as part of the application process. Our high-quality offer will undoubtedly improve the user’s experience while using the UK rail network, a worldwide rail reference that continues to evolve every day. For this goal, we have been proud to work alongside colleagues at Serena and Renfe whose vision for improved services is close to our own and has enabled us to put forward this ambitious project to the ORR.”
Joaquin Camacho, Founding Partner of Serena, stated: “Serena aims to contribute to the development of sustainable and resilient infrastructure in the United Kingdom. This is a perfect example of our purpose and spirit, which will provide an important mobility solution responding effectively to the climate challenge, while reducing journey times and providing a high-quality service alternative to the existing services on the route to South Wales. This proposal addresses current social, economic, and environmental needs by providing jobs and increasing the usage of the UK’s rail network.”
Renfe officials added: “Throughout the years, Renfe has established a reputation for excellence in rail operations in Spain and around the world. We are now proud to be supporting Grand Union Trains for the development of this new service, that will connect Wales with London with customers at the centre of the service. We look forward to bringing our unique experience to the project as well as future opportunities in the UK.”
A previous application by Grand Union to run services between South Wales and London was rejected by ORR in February 2021.
(Lead image: Grand Union Trains)
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