The UK’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has given the go-ahead for the first open access operator on the country’s popular West Coast Mainline, with Grand Union Trains set to begin services between London and Stirling from June 2025. 

The approval will allow the open access operator to run four return services a day between London Euston and Stirling, with the regulator saying the company’s offering would increase choice for passengers. 

The ORR’s director of strategy, policy and reform Stephanie Tobyn 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.” 

The approval for the services, lasting until 2030, covers stops at 12 stations along the route, including Larbert, Greenfaulds and Whifflet in Scotland, which will receive a direct service to London for the first time. 

Grand Union Trains is planning on using electric or dual-mode trains on the line but is set to begin with off-lease Class 221 or 222 trains over issues with power supply on the West Coast Mainline. 

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While the company previously received approval to begin its services on the route in 2018, the operator never began operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning it had to re-apply for access. 

The operator has also received approval for services between Carmarthen in South Wales and London Paddington station, which are also expected to begin next year.