Saturday, 14 December 2013

HIGH SPEED TRAINS ON THE EAST COAST MAIN LINE

New high speed GNER rail services in December 2016 will slash London – Edinburgh journey times


Great North Eastern Railway (GNER), part of Arriva UK Trains' Alliance Rail Holdings, has recently announced its plans to introduce a new high speed express train service on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) between London King’s Cross, Newcastle and Edinburgh in December 2016.

The trains will initially slash journey times from an average of 4 hours 20 minutes to 3 hours 43 minutes between London and Edinburgh, and to 2 hours 29 minutes between London and Newcastle. Passengers won’t have to wait 20 years for the completion of HS2 to see significant reductions in journey times to the North East and Scotland.

By reducing journey times, and focusing on the Newcastle and Edinburgh markets, GNER will encourage many travellers to and from London to switch from air to rail. The appeal of the train as being greener and easier than flying will be enhanced by the speed, and high quality of the on board service that GNER will deliver.

Shorter journey times will be achieved using tilting trains, which can travel at higher speeds on curved track. The new nine-coach trains, with around 500 seats, will be updated versions of the ‘Pendolino’ train that has been successful in reducing long distance journey times on the West Coast Main Line (WCML). Purchase of the new trains will be completely privately funded.

GNER has been working closely with rolling stock manufacturer Alstom Transport on the speed profile of the route to accommodate the introduction of the new fleet of trains. The proposals require investment in the track and line-side equipment to take advantage of the tilt technology.

Because the new ‘Pendolino’ trains will be capable of running at 140 mph there is the potential for GNER eventually to offer a journey between Edinburgh and London in under 3½ hours. This could become reality once Network Rail has modernised the ECML signalling, the first phase of which is planned for completion at the end of 2018.

At the same time as announcing its plans, GNER is commencing consultation with rail industry stakeholders. This will be followed by a formal application to the Office of Rail Regulation for rights to operate the new services. Discussions are also on-going with Network Rail about securing the capacity required to introduce the new service. There has been significant investment in additional capacity on the ECML in recent years with a number of infrastructure upgrades nearing completion and more planned between now and 2019.

Ian Yeowart, managing director of Alliance Rail Holdings, GNER’s parent company, said "With the announcement of these plans, the delivery of the most significant change on the ECML since the introduction of the iconic High Speed Trains (HST) has moved a step closer. The significant reduction in journey times will attract many airline passengers who will now have faster city centre to city centre journeys."

Tim Bentley, managing director of Alstom Transport Mainline, added: "We have been working with Alliance for some time now, and fully agree that using our Pendolino rolling stock will help to significantly reduce journey times on the ECML just as it has on the WCML. The Pendolino is the only train capable of providing the journey time reductions required to finally challenge air’s dominance of the route, and will bring with it major economic benefits."


  • GNER is a subsidiary of Alliance Rail Holdings (‘Alliance’), which is part of Arriva UK Trains.
  • Alliance develops plans for ‘open access’ train services that operate outside the franchise system and are not specified by the Department for Transport or Transport Scotland.
  • Alliance has also made an application to operate services on the West Coast Main Line through its company GNWR. A decision on this application is expected imminently from the ORR.
  • Around 175 full time equivalent jobs will be created by the new service.

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