The Edinburgh to London train could see off the plane and boost rail travel if another service is allowed to run alongside the East Coast franchise, says Tony Lodge.
A new race is on which can at last make London-to-Scotland express rail travel competitive with aviation. New plans for the fastest ever long-distance rail service between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh using new tilting trains will slash city to city journey times from an average of just under four and a half hours to just over 3hrs 40 mins.
But 20 years since railway privatisation, there is still no on-track competition against the main franchise holder, East Coast, in the provision of direct fast services between Waverley and King’s Cross on the East Coast Main Line. This could change if the government approves plans for new privately funded fast services from 2017. Where this kind of “open access” rail competition and choice has been allowed elsewhere on the line, fares have remained low, satisfaction high and more passengers have used the railway.
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