A new low-fare train service between Edinburgh and London has been given the green light.
The rail regulator ORR has approved FirstGroup's proposal to provide a rival budget rail service on the East Coast Mainline linking Edinburgh and London.
The plan is to operate five trains a day in each direction. The service will be spread throughout the day and the journey time will be around four hours and ten minutes.
Russell Evans, rail policy and planning director, FirstGroup:
We’ll be the first train company to leave London and arrive in Edinburgh before 10am and we’ll have return services during the day.
The Aberdeen headquartered company said “The new service is designed to provide more choice for passengers looking to travel between London, north-east England and Scotland, and will encourage travellers to switch from air or coach travel to rail. This is really going to be a step change for customers.”
First Group said the service, which will come into operation in 2021, will offer genuinely low fares at half the average price of today, while adding significant benefits to the UK economy.
Welcoming the ORR decision, Russell Evans, FirstGroup’s rail policy and planning director said, “The big thing for Edinburgh and people visiting Edinburgh in particular is that we’re going to have a service from London that arrives in Edinburgh before 10 o’clock in the morning. So we’ll be the first train company to leave London and arrive in Edinburgh before 10am and we’ll have return services during the day.”
He added: “Now that our application has been approved and we have been granted rights we will implement the next steps to deliver our proposals which include discussions with Network Rail and rolling stock manufacturers.”
Long term vision
“The vision for this is quite simple: it’s a low value, high quality service that offers something different for people who want to travel between London and Edinburgh. We’re trying to open up the market to business and leisure travellers.”
Despite the low-fare, FirstGroup insisted they will deliver a high quality, one-class service with free Wi-Fi and at-seat catering. Passengers will be able to reserve their seats online up to a few minutes before departure, and they’ll be travelling, in comfort, on brand new intercity trains.
The only downside perhaps is the timescale – the vision is still five years away. Network Rail are carrying out enhancement work to the East Coast Mainline. It’s only once this work is finished that there’ll be the extra capacity to run the additional services.