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Grand Union Trains to launch in competition with Great Western Railway on Paddington to Wales line

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 02/12/2022 William Mata

The rail regulator has given permission for a new company to set up to rival Great Western Railway on the main line from south-west Wales to London.

From 2025, Grand Union Trains is looking to run five trains a day from Paddington via Cardiff to Carmarthen after being given the green light by the Office of Rail and Road.

The improvement will notably improve the current offering of one direct service a day to the capital from some western Welsh towns. And Grand Union has promised services that are faster than the current maximum time of four hours and cheaper than the peak price of £150. Prices and times have not yet been confirmed.

Grand Union will begin operating in 2025 using newly built bi-mode trains which can operate under electric or diesel power, as not all of the route is electrified.

How the standard class could look (Grand Union Trains) © Provided by Evening Standard How the standard class could look (Grand Union Trains)

The new company has been launched as an “open access” operator, independent of the government. It follows on from Lumo and Hull Trains being given the right to compete with LNER on the eastern mainline. But this will be the first time in 25 years there will be a competitor on the western line.

Stephanie Tobyn, of the Office of Road and Rail, 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.”

Trains will also call at Bristol Parkway, Severn Tunnel Junction, Newport, Gowerton and Llanelli stations.

Ian Yeowart, Grand Union’s managing director, is behind the plan - having previously launched Grand Central to run on the east coast line.

He said: “It is great news for passengers who may have the opportunity to use our services.

“We are acutely aware of the difficulties faced by the ORR in determining these applications, and previous ORR decisions have significantly benefited many users on the ECML.

“We expect to be able to bring those benefits to the Great Western Main Line.”

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