Press releases

ORR: Open access services given green light between London and Stirling

7 March 2024
The latest access decision by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) provides more services for rail passengers travelling between London and central Scotland.
Cover Image
Stirling railway station in Scotland

ORR has today (7 March) given the go-ahead for Grand Union Trains, an open access operator, to start a new train service between London and the city of Stirling, from June 2025. ORR’s decision will offer more choice to passengers, bring private sector investment to the railway and increase competition.

Grand Union Trains will introduce four new return services per day between London Euston and Stirling stations. These services will also call at Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe (subject to agreement between Grand Union Trains and Network Rail), Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert. Larbert, Greenfaulds and Whifflet will receive their first direct services to London.

ORR found that the proposed services would increase choice for passengers, significantly increasing direct journey opportunities to and from London and central and southern Scotland, while making use of existing capacity on the network.

The new services will be the first run by an open access operator on the West Coast Mainline. Open access operators run services independently of government funding as they do not have a franchise agreement with government.

Following ORR’s decision to approve new Grand Union Trains services between Carmarthen in south Wales and London Paddington in 2022, ORR has now approved open access services on three of Britain’s major routes.

Stephanie Tobyn, Director, Strategy, Policy and & Reform, said:

“Our decision helps increase services for passengers and boost competition on Britain’s railway network. By providing more trains serving new destinations, open access operators offer passengers more choice in the origin and price of their journey leading to better outcomes for rail users.”

Update: Press release was updated following publication to clarify that ORR has granted contingent rights for Grand Union Trains to stop at Crewe. This means that Grand Union Trains and Network Rail will seek to establish the extent to which services can fit into the timetable for Crewe.

Notes to Editors

  1. ORR decision letter
  2. ORR previously approved an application by Grand Central on the West Coast Mainline in 2018, however the operator did not launch the services due to the impact of COVID.