Network Rail has reached an agreement with open access operator Great North Western Railway Company (GNWR) for the sale of access rights for two new rail services on the West Coast main line.

GNWR, a subsidiary of the Arriva-owned Alliance Rail Holdings, will operate new services between London and the north of England, presuming it is given final approval from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).

A fleet of eight new Pendolino trainsets will operate six return trips a day between London and Blackpool from 2017 and six return trips a day between London and Huddersfield, via Manchester Victoria and Leeds, from 2018.

More than 200 new jobs created for this operation.

Ian Yeowart, managing director of GNWR, said: “It has taken a significant amount of work since our initial application in 2011 to get to this point where Network Rail has agreed to the sale of access rights.

“There is still some way to go following full approval, as new rolling stock needs to be ordered and a full recruitment process needs to be undertaken. The target dates for operation are set to coincide with the full electrification of the two routes.”

GNWR’s initial application as been scaled back after Network Rail rejected routes to Bradford and the Cumbrian Coast because of potential timetabling and performance issues.

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