ORR Approves Operation of Grand Union Trains on Great Western Main Line

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has approved the introduction of Grand Union Trains between London, Cardiff and South West Wales from the end of 2024.

This service will be run by a new open access operator, Grand Union Trains, thus bringing competition to the the Great Western Main Line from Paddington.

This approval will also enable a significant increase in rail services between London and South Wales. An extra five daily return services will operate between London, Bristol Parkway, Severn Tunnel Junction, Newport, Cardiff, Gowerton, Llanelli and Carmarthen.

Grand Union train service
Regulator approves new Grand Union train service from Carmarthen to London Paddington

This is the first time that the Great Western Main Line has been open to competition, bringing potential potential benefits to passengers, such as lower fares and improved service quality.

Stephanie Tobyn, Director of Strategy, Policy and Reform at ORR said:

“This decision supports more choice for passengers, new direct journey opportunities, more price competition, and new comfortable trains.

“The added competition should also make a significant contribution to innovation in terms of the routes served, ticketing practices and service quality improvements, by both Grand Union and through the response of existing operators.”

The application for this service was submitted to ORR in June 2022 and was disputed by Network Rail due to concerns about capacity on the network. However, following thorough consideration and analysis, the ORR has directed Network Rail to enter into a contract with Grand Union.

To enable this service, Grand Union has committed to a significant investment in new trains. As an open access operator, it will not gain subsidies from public funds.

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