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ORR announces its decision on East Coast Main Line track access applications

27 February 2009
ORR/07/09

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) today announced its decision on applications for track access rights for passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

Following its proposed decision on 29 January 2009 and subsequent consultation, ORR has now decided on the applications for track access rights on the ECML – either to extend the period for which existing rights are in place, or for rights to run additional services. The regulator has approved the following:

  • conversion of the twelve (six each way) National Express East Coast contingent rights between Leeds and London King’s Cross to firm rights until December 2011;
  • continuation of the current access rights, but all as firm rights, for seven weekday and five weekend Hull Trains services each way between Hull and London King’s Cross until December 2016;
  • firm rights for a fourth Grand Central service each way between Sunderland and London King’s Cross until May 2012; and
  • firm rights for three new daily Grand Northern services each way between Bradford Interchange and London King’s Cross until December 2014.

Also, following our proposed decision, ORR is now in a position to approve:

  • firm and contingent rights for a new  National Express East Coast  enhanced service from London to Lincoln and to Harrogate via Leeds until December 2015.

We have rejected applications received from Platinum Trains which requested rights to introduce a new service between Aberdeen and London King’s Cross; and Hull Trains which wanted to introduce a new service between Harrogate and King’s Cross.

Michael Lee, ORR’s director of access, planning and performance, said: “Today’s decision will lead to improved services at locations which are currently poorly served, and will result in more frequent services to others. The introduction of a new standard pattern timetable will have obvious benefits to both freight users and passengers.

 “Our decision is based on a long process of consideration, and unfortunately the applications we rejected did not demonstrate sufficient benefits to offset the impact on existing operators.”

Notes to Editors

  1. ORR’s decision and associated documents can be found on our website: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/ecml-finaldec_270209.pdf
  2. ORR’s proposed decision  of 28 January 2009 and associated documents can be found on our website: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1993 together with the original press notice: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.9430
  3. The three daily Grand Northern Bradford services will have a potential calling pattern of London, Doncaster, Pontefract, Wakefield Kirkgate, Brighouse, Halifax and Bradford Interchange (the intermediate stops are based on contingent rights) and will run until 2014;
  4. The fourth Grand Central Sunderland weekday and Saturday service runs until May 2012 (when its current track access contract expires) with a calling pattern of London, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Eaglescliffe, Hartlepool and Sunderland.
  5. ORR has approved the continuation of the current access rights, but all as firm rights rather than a mix of firm and contingent, for seven weekday and five weekend Hull Trains services until December 2016 with a calling pattern of London, Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough and Hull.
  6. ORR has approved the conversion of 6 National Express East Coast contingent rights for Leeds half hourly services to firm rights until December 2011 (when its current track access contract expires).
  7. National Express East Coast’s franchise agreement contains a priced option for an enhanced service, known as SLC2, with an additional hourly off-peak service alternating between Lincoln and York commencing December 2010. National Express East Coast’s track access application is for a variation of this, known as SLC2b, with the York service replaced by a Harrogate via Leeds service, and one of the existing two services per hour to Leeds extended through to Bradford Forster Square. We are approving firm rights for SLC2b from London to Leeds and Lincoln until December 2015, with contingent rights for the route between Leeds and Bradford/Harrogate.
  8. Firm rights provide train operators with certainty that their services will be included in the timetable. Services based on contingent rights are included only so long as all operators’ firm rights can be accommodated; and
  9. The criteria and procedures for approving passenger track access contracts in place at the time we received the applications are available on our website at www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/288-pass_candp4ed.pdf. and www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/387_cm.pdf.

Press enquiries

ORR Press Office – 020 7282 2188/2007