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Plans Outlined For New Rail Service Between Greater Manchester And London

New train services between London and Greater Manchester by a company that has seen success with services on the east of the country.

Transport company FirstGroup wants to run six return trains a day between London Euston and Rochdale via Manchester Victoria through its Lumo brand, which has been running services between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh since 2021.

If successful, the service would provide the first direct train from Rochdale to London link via the Manchester city centre station was in 2000. Services would also call at Eccles, Newton-le-Willows and Warrington Bank Quay.

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FirstGroup said it would use new UK-built trains powered by electricity and batteries. It estimates the services, which could begin from 2027, would provide 1.6m people in the North West with a “convenient and competitively priced direct rail service to London from stations that are more local to them”, helping to stimulate a shift in transport mode from coach and car travel to rail.

Lum0 runs on an open access basis, meaning it receives no taxpayer-funded subsidies and takes on all revenue risk. Most train operators in England are paid a management fee, with the UK Government holding responsibility for costs and revenue.

The company has submitted an application to the Office of Rail and Road seeking permission to launch the London-Rochdale route.

FirstGroup chief executive 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 modal 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.”

This brings the number of proposed new open access rail routes in Britain to eight.

The Government is planning measures to encourage further schemes, such as providing more certainty over the duration of the application assessments, reconsidering the required balance of costs between taxpayers and operators, and ensuring all unused track access slots are made available.

Rail minister Huw Merriman told the PA news agency last month that open access services “give more choice to customers, and that crucially increases the number of passengers that we get”.

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