New train services in the pipeline

Last updated at 16:39 07 July 2006

Train services between London and the North have been given a boost under new plans unveiled today.

Twenty new train 'paths' - 10 in each direction - on the East Coast Main Line have been identified by Network Rail (NR).

This could allow the line's operator GNER to run up to six additional services between Leeds and London.

A rival operator - Grand Central - will be able to run three new services between Sunderland and King's Cross, while Hull Trains could operate an extra Hull to London service.

The announcement by National Rail comes after a decision earlier this year by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to allow Grand Central to operate on the East Coast line.

The decision has been bitterly opposed by GNER which said today's announcement did not 'in any way' change its legal challenge to the ORR's decision about Grand Central.

A judicial review hearing against Grand Central is still planned to go ahead on Monday (July 10).

News of the extra services was welcomed by GNER spokesman Alan Hyde.

He said: 'This is good news for passengers and communities along the busy Leeds-London route. The route needs and deserves extra services.

'Our next step is to discuss with the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation how and when these additional services could best be introduced.'

Meanwhile, Grand Central announced its Monday to Saturday timetable for its Sunderland to London services which are planned to start on December 10.

There will be three return services a day, with the first leaving Sunderland for London at 6.53am.

Grand Central managing director Ian Yeowart said: 'We are delighted that our modest initial timetable offers passengers a good spread of services throughout the day. It will create significant new journey opportunities, helping the visibility of these important communities, and assisting in their re-generation.

'Our consistent view on capacity has been fully vindicated, with GNER gaining all the new services it was seeking. I trust that hope those that opposed our services on the false "them or us" premise will in future take a more considered view of the evidence.

'We now look forward to increasing rail's market share - and would like to take the opportunity to thank colleagues at Network Rail and every other train operating company for the professional way in which they approached this exercise.'

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