25 October 2010

Alliance Rail's Plan

This is both a genuine look at what is headlined to be a genuine act of entrepreneurial flair that is just what the Coalition government is looking for to ensure the country's fortunes improve as fast as possible and also a tireless plug for our LEYTR magazine.

Saturday's Grimsby Evening Telegraph ran a story in which it detailed how a new generation of 140mph trains could soon link the town and neighbouring Cleethorpes with London in 2:40. Trains would travel between Cleethorpes and London calling only at Grimsby Town, Habrough, Scunthorpe and Doncaster.

The 'new' venture is by Alliance Rail, headed by Ian Yeowart and originally backed (so surreptitiously it was seen as a secret!) by Arriva, though now Deutsche Bahn. There's no secrecy about the company's financial backers anymore. The company will operate using the GNER name as this was abandoned when Sea Containers - the parent company of the original Great North Eastern Railway - went into liquidation and surrendered its flagship GNER company, which then passed to National Express and now into public ownership.

Purchased by Alliance Rail is the name Great North Western Railway, as the Cleethorpes-London plan is but one of a host of new routes under consideration - six in total.

North East Lincolnshire inhabitants will have been rightly encouraged by the proposals, as they do have restricted transport links owing to the area's locality, nestled in the arm pit of the Humber. Regrettably, though, we detail below a number of sticking points to which the 'Telegraph' article did not air:
  • Trains will not operate at 140mph. Nothing like it in fact. Between Cleethorpes-Doncaster, the maximum line speed is 60mph (80mph between Doncaster-Hatfield & Stainforth) Even on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) the maximum line speed is 125mph
  • The ECML is full. Or at least Network Rail claim it will be from May 2011, when its new Eureka! timetable is implemented
  • Alliance Rail's boss could face legal action over the sensitive information his former employer, Renaissance Trains, claims he has used now he's heading up Alliance Rail. They allege the plans are very similar to those on which they were working - some were turned down, others amended, which saw Renaissance Trains - then headed by Yeowart - opt for the route Alliance Rail is proposing today
  • The proposed new service mirrors the existing route taken by Grimsby/Cleethorpes residents, which is not the quickest available. Cleethorpes-Lincoln-Newark and then ECML is the fastest, though fewer settlements are passed. Renaissance Trains had planned to operate via Lincoln, where more people live than Scunthorpe - the trade-off Alliance Trains has made
  • The claim that the average Cleethorpes-London journey time is 3:40 is false. Taking today as an example, there are 18 journeys bookable between Cleethorpes and London. The fastest takes 2:57 and the slowest 3:43. The 16 in between average a duration of 3:20 - and this is with a change of train at Doncaster, remember
  • If at all possible, residents ought to consider travelling to London via Newark as, even today, this tends to be quicker than via Doncaster, though EMT do not offer seat reservations and all but two of their trains start at Grimsby, not Cleethorpes. The fastest end-to-end journey used to be by travelling on the Saturday-only Northern service from Cleethorpes at 1113 and changing at Retford, though today's timetable must see an increased connection time here as this takes now 3:14.
  • Even less than 24 hours before departure, East Coast's website (from where all train journeys between North East Lincolnshire and London should be booked, offering the greatest discounts) fares at £32.50 are offered - lower than the headline £39 promoted by Alliance Rail. Further in advance, fares are cheaper - some 50% less than £39
  • Not Alliance Rail's fault, but the 'Telegraph' claims the last direct Cleethorpes-London trains operated in the late-80s. Not true - 16 May 1993. The train's withdrawal was even discussed in Parliament
We're not poo-pooing the plan to operate direct trains between North East Lincolnshire and London, just shining the cold, harsh light of day on what has been published so far. Local residents ought to be better informed.

Readers will also be a little shocked to see news from the LEYTR area being discussed on the blog (we normally avoid this to ensure our LEYTR magazines continue to offer unrivalled local information). Those who receive the LEYTR magazines, however, have already read this information - we detailed it on Page 138 of the November/December 2009 edition.

Grimsby Evening Telegraph Article

Additional information thanks to contributing writer 'DB'

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