FirstGroup Proposes New Rochdale to London Rail Service with British-Built Trains

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 20, 2024 02:00 AMNews
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The train goes over the bridge over the abyss
Reimagining Connectivity Across Britain. Source: unsplash

FirstGroup plc, a leading private sector transport operator, has taken the initial steps towards introducing a new open access rail service connecting Rochdale and London. This move marks the revival of a direct link that has been absent for nearly twenty-five years.

The company's proposal is part of its expansion plans for its successful Lumo business, which has already revolutionized long-distance travel between London and Edinburgh. Notably, all trains on this proposed route will be powered by electricity and batteries, featuring state-of-the-art models manufactured in the UK.

The envisioned service aims to offer six return journeys daily, re-establishing the direct connection between Rochdale and London via Manchester Victoria. Stations along the route will include Manchester Victoria, Eccles, Newton-le-Willows, and Warrington Bank Quay. This strategic network will provide improved connectivity for communities, including the burgeoning MediaCity area in Salford and enhanced rail access for St Helens.

It is anticipated that approximately 1.6 million residents in the North West will benefit from convenient and competitively priced rail travel to London, potentially encouraging a shift from other modes of transportation such as coaches and cars.

Moreover, the introduction of this service is expected to yield positive economic outcomes for the regions it serves, mirroring the success seen with FirstGroup's existing open access services like Lumo and Hull Trains.

FirstGroup has formally submitted its application to the Office of Rail and Road, initiating a consultation period and discussions with Network Rail. Pending approvals, services could commence as early as 2027.

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