Virgin Trains faces competition on the West Coast main line after the rail regulator finally gave a rival company the green light to run services between Blackpool and London, a decision that should push fares lower.
Alliance Rail, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn-owned Arriva, has secured the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) backing to operate off-peak services on the route under an “open access” proposal.
The company failed in two previous attempts to run services on the West Coast, but succeeded with its third after it dropped plans to run three trains every two hours, as well as a proposal to operate transpennine services.
Alliance will run one train every two hours in each direction and services will start in 2018 under the Great North Western Railway (GNWR) brand. The firm wants to use a shorter version of the high-speed tilting Pendolino trains that Virgin currently runs on the line.
Virgin, which has the West Coast franchise, currently operates one train a day in each direction between the capital and Blackpool.