GRAND UNION is proposing to launch a new service between Llanelli and London. It will start with a service every two hours in both directions from Cardiff to London in May 2021, then increase to an hourly service and extend to Swansea and Llanelli from May 2023. This new service will bring more journey opportunities, wider economic benefits and significant employment to the people of South Wales.

The company are proposing to initially establish a service every two hours in both directions along the Cardiff to London route on the Great Western Main Line.

The company claim that this service will create passenger choice where there is currently none, increase service frequency and open up new journey opportunities, providing improved connectivity for South Wales.

The Expanded Route

It is proposed to increase the frequency of this route to an hourly service in 2023, when the route would also expand from Cardiff Central to operate fast to Swansea and Llanelli, with no intermediate calls, with a target journey time to Swansea of 2 hours 30 mins to/from London Paddington. These services would be operated by a new fleet of Hitachi Class 802 bi-mode trains.

Working Local

The company have been in regular discussions with the Welsh Government and other stakeholders about making this a reality, focusing on increasing the current number of trains between Cardiff and London, and eventually expanding the line to increase frequency and include more locations in South Wales. This new service will also bring significant full-time employment to the area.

All Aboard for a Relaxing Experience

The company claim that they will provide the very best on-board experience – where we value every single customer, provide free wi-fi for everyone and a good choice of catering and refreshments regardless of your ticket price.

Their marketing materials state: “Our comfortable new trains will have be configured to our specification to provide better seats, and more space and leg-room for passengers compared to other train providers, with good space for luggage.

“All our journeys will have a full complement of safety-trained staff onboard, so passengers can be confident their service is as safe as possible.

“Passengers also rightly expect to receive a seat – and a seat will be part of the ticket price for all London journeys. If we cannot provide a seat on a particular journey, we will refund a standing passenger 50% of their ticket price for that journey, or if they buy a ticket onboard, discount their ticket at the time of purchase.”

A Fair Price

The company states that they believe train travel should be affordable and accessible for everyone. They aim to provide the best possible value for money on ticketing, attracting passengers who currently cannot afford rail travel.

As well as selling advance tickets in what will become a more competitive environment, passengers will also be able to buy tickets on the train, with their prices significantly below the inter-available fare. Passengers will also be able to use railcards for on-train ticket purchase.

A New Freight Service

The company says that their passenger service will also transport light and urgent freight by utilising empty space in the non-passenger part of their trains.

Working with rail freight logistics specialists Intercity Railfreight, they will provide a reliable freight moving option for business, with no impact on passengers and no delays in service.

Importantly they claim that this service will relieve pressure on road transportation and provide a cleaner, greener way to transport fast-moving consumer goods and urgent items between South Wales and London.

The Initial Route

The service is planned to start in 2021 with calling points of Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway, then express to London Paddington. It will also stop at Cardiff Parkway when it opens.

The company claim that Grand Union’s trains will cut the current average journey time between Cardiff and London by 20 minutes, with a target journey time of 1 hour 45 mins. Services will be operated by 125mph electric trains released from the flagship routes on the East Coast Main Line.

Images: Courtesy of Grand Union

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