Grand Central surprised and disappointed by ORR announcement

Grand Central Railway is surprised and disappointed by the Office of Rail Regulation’s announcement today that it must await a ‘full recast of the timetable’ before considering whether or not Open Access Operators can serve destinations along the West Coast Main Line. 

Grand Central’s proposed North Western service would have used existing capacity and rolling stock to introduce regular daily services from May 2012 linking Blackpool North, Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham & Wesham, Preston, Hartford, Lichfield Trent Valley, Tamworth, Nuneaton, Milton Keynes with London Euston.

Our timetable for the proposed North Western service was robust and written by the industry expert who drew up the current West Coast timetable whilst at Network Rail.

The significant support Grand Central received from Members of Parliament, Local Authorities, Rail User Groups and potential users of its proposed North Western service mean that there will be many communities along the route of the proposed new service that will share Grand Central’s deep disappointment about ORR’s announcement today.

Grand Central looks forward to meeting with the Office of Rail Regulation to better understand today’s announcement and in particular to gain an insight into the methodology by which the ORR and its consultants MVA determined that Grand Central’s North Western proposals are primarily abstractive, a conclusion that we contest.

Notes to editors

  • Grand Central had proposed introducing its North Western service between Blackpool North and London in May 2012, when monopoly or “Moderation of Competition” granted to the current Virgin West Coast franchise comes to an end.
  • As the ORR states that a West Coast Main Line timetable ‘recast cannot sensibly be introduced before December 2013’ this represents a defacto twenty month extension to the current Moderation of Competition rules on the route. This decision effectively extends the current monopoly until at least the end of 2013.
    Moderation of Competition rules plays a significant role in preventing other operators from serving destinations along the West Coast Main Line, stifling competition and denying the consumer choice.
  • Grand Central spent a significant amount of money and management time on this process and seeks to understand the ORRs justification for inviting applications for paths on the West Coast Main Line that it now feels unable to offer until 2013, at the earliest.