Arriva has announced its application for permission to begin a new high-speed rail service between Edinburgh and London.
The service, if approved, will begin in December 2016 and will connect Edinburgh with London King’s Cross via Newcastle in 3 hours 43 minutes – down from the current 4 hours 20 with franchise operator East Coast.
The time savings will be partly achieved by the introduction of 9-coach tilting Pendolino units, not unlike the ones currently in service on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) with Virgin. Arriva maintains that the Pendolino is “the only train capable of providing the journey time reductions required to finally challenge” air travel between Scotland and London, and that it will tempt business flyers by positioning itself as the greener, faster alternative to flying. Purchase of the Pendolino units will be private-funded.
The development of this initiative is the next chapter of the UK ‘open access’ rail story. Open access operators have already been challenging franchise operators for some time, particularly on the East Coast Main Line between London and the North East. Ian Yeowart, Managing Director of Alliance Rail Holdings (GNER’s parent company), said of the application: “it would be extremely unfortunate if the opportunity to introduce a new open access high speed service by 2016 was not taken – particularly as it would provide Scotland with its first open access rail service and create a significant number of new jobs in Scotland and the North East of England.”
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