FirstGroup’s Anglo-Scottish plan

Operator proposes ‘highly competitive fares’ to compete with budget airlines

FirstGroup has submitted a track access right application to the Office of Rail Regulation to operate services between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh.

The group plans a new open access operation which it says will be ‘designed specifically to encourage travellers to switch from air to rail as currently two thirds of journeys between the capitals are made by plane’. It says fares will be ‘highly competitive with budget air carriers’.

It proposes to run ‘several trains a day’, calling at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth. Calls at Stevenage and Morpeth are intended to encourage potential air travellers who might use Luton, Stansted or Newcastle airports to switch to rail.

First says it will offer ‘one high-quality class of travel on brand new, state of the art rolling stock comparable to other trains being introduced on the route’. Free Wi-Fi and onboard catering would be provided.

The operator says the ORR will consider the proposals alongside an industry consultation over the next few weeks. If the application is successful, services are planned to begin in 2018.

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