Arriva-owned open access operator Great North Western Railway (GNWR) has received approval from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to run trains on the West Coast Main Line (WCML).
From 2018, GNWR – an Alliance Rail Holdings venture – will operate six direct, return services between London and Blackpool every day.
The new services will see Arriva invest in a fleet of new Pendolino trains.
Ian Yeowart, managing director of Alliance said: “We are naturally delighted that the ORR has approved our application to deliver a new direct rail service linking Blackpool and London.
“The introduction of these new services will further grow the market for rail travel. As well as bringing new direct services to a number of locations, notably Blackpool, it will give passengers further choice.
“Experience on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) with Grand Central has shown how this stimulates the market and helps put pressure on prices, a fact noted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in its recent rail review.”
The ORR’s director, economic regulation John Larkinson said: “The ORR has approved an application from GNWR for new off-peak train services between Lancashire and London on the West Coast Main Line.
“ORR recognises the benefits competition between train operators can bring to passengers and welcomes applications for new train services where they meet required criteria and provide real benefits for rail users.
“In this instance the proposed new services will bring significant passenger benefits with extra direct London – Blackpool trains, new journey opportunities including new direct services to and from Poulton-le-Fylde and Kirkham & Wesham, and improved journey times.
“The regulator will include conditions in GNWR’s access contract to secure these benefits. The company’s plans submitted to the ORR include additional investment in stations and trains, bringing further benefits to passengers.”