Prospective open access operator Grand Union could use new Hitachi Class 802 bi-mode trains to run an hourly service between Llanelli and London Paddington by 2023, replacing the Class 91s and Mk 4s it initially wants to use between London and Cardiff two years before that.
Speaking exclusively to RAIL, Grand Union Managing Director Ian Yeowart says discussions have taken place with Hitachi, which is confident it can deliver eight seven- or nine-coach trains in time for the service to start in May 2023, running seven diagrams. The train builder is also confident it has capacity to maintain them at Swansea. London to Cardiff journey times are expected to be 1hr 45mins and 2hrs 30mins to Swansea with the new trains.
Grand Union’s initial plans - if approved by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) - are to operate a two-hourly service between Cardiff and London using Class 91s and Mk 4 coaches from May 2021, with new trains superseding them two years later.
The company is hoping to be able to obtain up to six sets of Mk 4s, with three diagrams expected to be needed at the start of operations. Maintenance will take place in the daytime to reduce pressure at maintenance depots, and spare sets will be available to provide additional capacity for events in Cardiff.
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