British train operator Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) is planning to introduce an hourly electric high-speed Pendolino service on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) in December 2016.

The new rail service will reduce journey times between London and Edinburgh from an average four hours 20 minutes to three hours 43 minutes.

After a significant period of consultation, GNER, which is a subisidiry of Arriva UK Trains’ Alliance Rail Holdings, has submitted its formal application to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for approval to operate the service.

The updated versions of Pendolino train will feature nine coaches and can accommodate 500 passengers. They can travel at higher speeds on curved track and have been successful in reducing long distance journey times on the West Coast Main Line.

Arriva said that purchase of the new trains will be completely privately funded.

"It would be unfortunate if the opportunity to introduce a new open-access high-speed service was not taken."

GNER said its aim of reducing journey times and focusing on the Edinburgh and Newcastle markets will encourage many travellers to and from London to switch from air to rail.

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Alliance Rail Holdings managing director Ian Yeowart said: "With so many northern communities like Hull, Sunderland, Bradford, Halifax, Teesside and Hartlepool benefiting from open access services, it would be extremely unfortunate if the opportunity to introduce a new open-access high-speed service was not taken."

Image: Pendolino trains can travel at higher speeds on curved track. Photo: courtesy of Arriva.