Open access firm Grand Union has applied to operate a new service between South Wales and London.
Previously Grand Union had wanted to run between Cardiff and London.
But its application was dismissed by regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) because of “revenue abstraction” (a term favoured by the rail industry) from incumbent GWR.
So Grand Union has returned with a modified plan which ought to produce greater benefits for the South Wales area. It therefore hopes the ORR will look favourably on its latest application.
What Grand Union wishes to do now is launch a service between Carmarthen and London (the terminus is not named but is likely to be Paddington).
If the operator gets the green light the service would launch with Cardiff-London in May 2023. This would see Grand Union competing with GWR.
The service would be extended to serve Llanelli and Carmarthen from May 2025.
A park and ride station would be built at Felindre close to junction 46 of the M4.
Services would call at the above station and bypass Swansea thus reducing journey time to London by 20 minutes. Further details are not available at time of writing.
Grand Union claims “This new service will bring more journey opportunities, wider economic benefits and significant employment to the people of South Wales”.
However train operators (TOCs) like GWR pay hefty franchise fees to the government and the latter protects their interests.
Open access firm Lumo was the last operator to gain approval.
It now competes on the London-Edinburgh flagship route in competition with incumbent LNER.
Lumo won the right to compete with LNER because it was bringing a different product (one which would compete with domestic air) to the route.
It remains to be seen whether or not the ORR will view this latest application from Grand Union in a different light.
Meanwhile Grand Union still awaits a decision on its proposal to operate Stirling-London.