It seems there’s going to be a minor little earthquake in the UK Rail market – as FirstGroup have had secured permission to start a new rail service between London and Scotland.
The new plan for five trains a day between London King’s Cross to Edinburgh, via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.
The train will offer single class seating, with on-board catering and free WiFi, with seats available to reserve up to the point of departure.
All this for a promised average fare of £25 or less.
FirstGroup’s new service will be in direct competition with Virgin Trains East Coast (10% owned by Virgin and 90% by Stagecoach), and according to The Telegraph – Virgin Trains East Coast aren’t overly happy with this new service starting up.
One thing that will irk Virgin Trains East Group will be that FirstGroup will plan their first train to arrive at 10:00 from Scotland – an hour earlier than Virgin.
No trains (or rolling stock) have been allocated to the service yet, so that’ll be one to look out for in the future. Expect it to electric high-speed trains though.
FirstGroup has experience of operations of open access operations on the East Coast Main Line – it currently operates services from Hull to London through First Hull Trains.
However, there will be a wait as FirstGroup have to wait until 2021 to commence the service.
It’s an interesting decision to allow this through – there are other operations that could had filled the space (be it more services by Virgin Trains, Grand Central, or other new entrants) – but it seems that a “budget operator” has been given the chance to see if it can operate services.
This could be one to keep an eye on.
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