IRJ - June 2011 - (Page 35)
Alliance takes openaccess to the next level
Britain’s open-access operators had a bad start to 2011 with the closure of Wrexham & Shropshire, but the sector’s capacity for innovation is still driving new projects forward. Ian Yeowart, managing director of Alliance Rail Holdings talks to Keith Barrow about the company’s bold plans for new services.
LTHOUGH their share of the overall market is still comparatively small, openaccess passenger operators have made a big impact on Britain’s railways over the last decade, providing innovative long-distance services on routes abandoned by British Rail and shunned by franchised operators. Hull Trains became the first openaccess passenger operator in 2000 and now operates seven trains per day between Hull and London King’s Cross. In December 2007, Grand Central restored direct services between Sunderland and London, and last year
launched its second route, linking Bradford and Halifax with the capital. A third operator, Wrexham & Shropshire, began running services from Wrexham and Shrewsbury to London in 2008, but inadequate ridership sadly led to the operator’s untimely demise in January this year. One of the lead characters in the open-access story is Mr Ian Yeowart, a railwayman of 38 years who founded Grand Central and led the company through the often-tortuous process of becoming a fully-fledged train operator. Today Yeowart is managing director of Alliance Rail Holdings, a subsidiary of
Arriva which has ambitions to take open-access to an entirely different level. Alliance plans to launch a network of inter-city routes utilising both the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and the West Coast Main Line (WCML), providing dozens of towns and cities in central and northern England with new direct services to London. It will be the first open-access operator in Britain to use new rolling stock, and aims to compete on journey times, as well as service quality and price. Under the Great North Western Railway (GNWR) brand, Alliance will
Alliance will require a new train fleet for its West Coast services. One option under consideration is the Polaris design from CSR, China.
IRJ June 2011
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