FirstGroup Applies to Operate Rochdale to London Lumo Service

FirstGroup has submitted an application to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to run a new open access rail service between Rochdale and London as part of its Lumo business.

These plans would restore this direct rail link for the first time in almost a quarter of a century. The service would be operated using new electric and battery-powered trains, built in the UK.

Lumo launched in October 2021 between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh on the East Coast Mainline
Lumo launched in October 2021 between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh on the East Coast Mainline

FirstGroup is proposing to offer six return journeys a day, connecting Rochdale to London Euston via Manchester Victoria. The service would also call at Eccles, Newton-le-Willows and Warrington Bank Quay.

By providing an estimated 1.6 million people in the North West with a convenient and competitively priced direct rail service to London, it is hoped that this service will help promote a modal shift from road to rail transport.

The new route would build on Lumo’s existing success operating between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh on the East Coast Mainline. Discussions are also currently underway to extend this service to and from Glasgow.

FirstGroup Chief Executive Officer, Graham Sutherland said:

“We have extensive experience of running open access rail operations and we want to bring our successful Lumo service to this new route that connects Rochdale and London. We have seen the level of growth and opportunity that is possible with open access, as well as the positive effect it has on the wider market, including economic and environmental benefits. In addition, the new service will help to drive mo

“dal shift from road to rail between the North West and London. We will be working closely with stakeholders as we build our application and our case for this new service.”

Following FirstGroup’s submission of its formal application to the ORR, a consultation period will now take place. Discussions will also be held with Network Rail to secure the required approvals for the new service.

It is anticipated that operations could begin from 2027.

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