Direct train hope underlined for South Bank as Doncaster split described as a 'distinct possibility'

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 11 Jul 2018

Direct rail services from London to Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Cleethorpes could soon become a reality, the boss of Grand Central Trains has indicated to Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce.

Managing director Richard McClean told Chamber Council members that splitting a train at Doncaster, with half of the train running into northern Lincolnshire as the other half heads off to Bradford, is not only feasible, but a distinct possibility and common practice in the South of England.

This has previously been seen as a potential stumbling block, with the key South Yorkshire station not having the time capacity to deal with the physical act of separating off the train.

Read more: South Bank's direct rail link to London moves a step closer after survey

It is hoped the new services could start in May 2020, spurring economic growth in the region. However, running four return trains a day past the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and Network Rail will be the biggest obstacles to making the plans a reality for northern Lincolnshire, giving it direct rail links to the capital for the first time since 1992, Mr McClean said.

After explaining his plans in detail, including using refurbished Class 180 trains, Mr McClean appealed to Humber business leaders to give their backing to the proposals and help to demonstrate a strong business case at the appropriate time when the submission for track access is made to the ORR, hopefully in September.

Read more: Chamber backs South Bank MP's campaign for direct London rail link

Grand Central Trains is what’s known as an Open Access Operator, a small company running specific services filling the gaps that the franchised operators can’t or won’t fill.

If the plans are given the green light, it is hoped that services will begin operating in May 2020 – it will then be up to the business community and the travelling public to prove there is the demand to make the service viable for the future.

Mr McClean said he believed there was strong a level of “frustrated demand” which sees people driving 30 to 40 miles to get a train, and that if you take those barriers away people will use the service and it will make efficient use of the East Coast Main Line’s capacity.

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