Arriva Submit Substantial Application To Increase Capacity On London Kings Cross Routes

May 21, 2024

Arriva Group has applied to the rail regulator to significantly increase capacity on its routes connecting London Kings Cross with northern destinations.

Grand Central, Arriva’s open-access subsidiary, aims to introduce two additional return services between Bradford and London, along with an early morning connection from York and an evening return. This proposal, pending approval from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), would add over 550,000 extra seats annually, representing more than a 30% increase in current capacity. The new services are anticipated to commence around May 2025.

David Brown, managing director of Arriva’s UK Trains division, stated, “These proposals would bring more services and choice to passengers, building on the success of Grand Central’s open access operations, which connect several under-served communities in both the North East and West Yorkshire to London.”

He emphasized that this initiative presents a growth opportunity for the railway sector, benefiting both passengers and Grand Central employees. “By delivering additional services through open access, we can encourage more train travel, which is good for the environment and for communities, helping to ensure Britain’s rail system can thrive long into the future,” Brown added.

The open access model, which aims to increase competition with traditional train operators by allowing companies to take on full commercial risk without paying significant government franchising fees, is gaining traction among the UK’s major transport companies. For instance, FirstGroup has proposed reinstating the London to Rochdale route via its all-electric open-access subsidiary, Lumo. Additionally, Richard Branson’s Virgin Trains is seeking a return to the West Coast Mainline, potentially challenging the struggling Avanti West Coast service.

If approved, Arriva Group’s proposal would provide 360,000 additional seats annually between London and Bradford, marking a 50% increase in capacity on Grand Central’s West Yorkshire service. The York to London Kings Cross route would see an early morning departure and a late-evening return, adding 195,000 seats per year.

Moreover, the proposal includes four new direct calls at Seaham in Durham, offering the town its first direct connection to London. This expansion underscores Arriva Group’s commitment to enhancing rail connectivity and accessibility for under-served communities.