ORR approves East Coast Main Line track access applications

11 February 2010

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has today approved track access applications giving train companies rights to run additional and/or amended passenger services on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

Following industry-wide consultation, new access rights on the ECML will allow East Coast Main Line Company Limited (East Coast), Grand Central Railway Company Limited (Grand Central) and Hull Trains Company Limited (Hull Trains) to run more trains and improve services for passengers.

John Thomas, ORR's director railway markets and economics said:

Today's announcement will be good news for users of the railway, with passengers set to benefit from more services to a greater number of locations.
It is now important for Network Rail to work with the train operators to finalise the timetabling so that the additional services are up-and-running for May 2011. We believe that further improvements should be possible through development of the timetable.

The approved ECML track access contracts will offer:

  • East Coast rights to operate the proposed enhanced Service Level Commitment 2 (SLC2) standard pattern timetable which includes additional off-peak services between Lincoln/York and King's Cross.
  • Grand Central rights for four return services on weekdays and Saturdays, and three return services on Sundays between Sunderland and King's Cross and three return services each day between Bradford and King's Cross until December 2016, subject to an agreed investment programme.
  • Hull Trains rights to operate its current level of services until December 2016, subject to an agreed investment programme.

The rights for East Coast will come into effect in May 2011 when a new standard pattern timetable is expected to begin. Grand Central will be introducing its new services between Bradford and King's Cross later this year.

Notes to editors

  1. The decision letter pdf icon PDF, 129 Kb is available on our website: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/ecml-decision-letter-110210.pdf
  2. ORR considers and, if appropriate, approves applications from companies who wish to have access to the rail network in order to run their trains. Our decisions take into account factors such as free capacity available on the tracks and the impact of new services on existing operators and rail users.
  3. ORR has no part in determining the services that franchise operators choose to run, such as the frequency and where trains should stop. This is a matter for government. Nor do we have any role to play in the development of the timetable, which is a matter for Network Rail. The work undertaken to date has been to allow it and the train operators to develop the detail of the rights to be included in the track access contracts/agreements that we have today approved.
  4. A standard pattern timetable is one in which the services to each destination follow a regular repeating sequence.
  5. Details of SLC2 services may be found on page 27 of the Department for Transport's document InterCity East Coast Franchise Consultation January 2010 http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/2010-08/consultation.pdf
  6. Read the criteria and procedures for approving passenger track access contracts pdf icon PDF, 1,010 Kb in place at the time we received the applications and this alternate location pdf icon PDF, 10 Kb on our website
  7. Correspondence in respect of the various ECML track access applications, including our decision of 27 February 2009 can be found on our website at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20111108204718/http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.9364