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Plan for new, quicker London-Sheffield train service unveiled

Simon Calder’s Travel

A new, faster train service between London and Sheffield could be launched in the second half of next year.

Transport company FirstGroup announced its plan to operate two daily return trips from London King’s Cross to the South Yorkshire city via Retford, Worksop and Woodhouse as part of its Hull Trains business.

This would create competition for East Midlands Railway, which runs direct services between London St Pancras and Sheffield, taking around two hours.

FirstGroup said it aims to provide a faster link between the capital and Sheffield than existing services. It stated that almost three-quarters of trips between the cities are currently made by car, with a further 9 per cent by coach.

A “competitively priced” new rail offering will “help stimulate a shift in transport mode of choice from road to rail”, it claimed.

The proposal will also give the Nottinghamshire town of Worksop its first regular direct London train service in decades.

FirstGroup has submitted the first phase of an application to run the service to regulator the Office of Rail and Road.

A consultation will be launched shortly.

The service would run on an open access basis, meaning the company would receive no taxpayer-funded subsidies and take on all revenue risk.

Most train operators in Britain are paid a management fee, with the UK and devolved governments holding responsibility for costs and revenue.

Hull Trains currently operates up to seven daily services between London King’s Cross and Hull/Beverley.

FirstGroup’s other open access service, Lumo, launched in October 2021 and runs between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh.

Graham Sutherland, the company’s chief executive, said: “We want to leverage our extensive experience of running open access services and repeat the success of Hull Trains and Lumo through this new route that connects London and Sheffield.

“We have seen the level of growth and opportunity that is possible with open access, as well as the positive effect it can have on the wider market, including economic and environmental benefits.

“The new service will help to drive modal shift from road to rail by offering customers a more sustainable travel alternative between the two cities.

“We will be working closely with stakeholders as we build our application and our case for this new offering.”

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