Reporter: Laura Wild
Date online: 09 June 2010
An example of the 'Polaris' train which will be used if the proposals are passed
Rochdale could soon have a direct high speed train link to London if proposals are passed.
Alliance Rail Holdings, based in West Yorkshire are aiming to roll out a private nationwide train service totalling £250,000,000.
A train service from Bradford to London Euston will pass through Rochdale as part of the plans and the first trains are expected to run on the line in late 2013.
The company, which runs services through its subsidiary companies, Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) and Great North Western Railway (GNWR), is now fully funded with capital from share holders and is simply waiting for the go ahead from the Office of Rail Regulation.
Chief Executive of Alliance Rail Holdings, Ian Yeowart is confident that the plans will get the go ahead, he said: “We have the funding to carry out this project from start to end. We didn’t submit the proposals until the finance was in place.
“We have the backing of the government, the local authority and the local MP.”
The journey is expected to take two hours and forty minutes, longer than the journey from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston, however, Mr Yeowart explains it isn’t a bad journey time: “For people getting a train from Rochdale to Manchester and then having to get off the train and walk to Piccadilly or get the Metro then get off and get escalator up to the train it will probably equal the same amount of time.”
The proposed stops on the train route from Bradford to London are: Bradford, Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Rochdale, Manchester Victoria, Eccles, Newton-Le-Willows, and possibly Winsford and Crewe. The train will then either go directly to London Euston or make a stop in the Trent Valley.
Mr Yeowart feels the service has something to offer to Rochdale: “Having a direct service to the capital will help the people of Rochdale; it will put Rochdale on the map. These trains will be of a high standard as will the service, we can’t get people to their door steps but we will get them as close as possible.”
Mr Yeowart said one of the biggest focuses for the company is to put the customer first: “This rail service will be the people’s rail service; we will want passengers to come back and be happy with the service.
“We won’t always be the cheapest, sometimes a £10.00 train fare to London isn’t realistic but we will ensure that our passengers have a seat on the train and a comfortable journey.
“The trains will be accessible, for example if you need to get to London tonight or tomorrow at late notice you will be able to, you will be able to walk on the train and get a ticket and you won’t be penalised for it.”
Mr Yeowart appreciates that sometimes the trains may be fuller than expected, but passengers need not fear that it will pull on their purse strings, he said: “If for some reason 200 people are getting on a train to London from Rochdale and it is crowded then those who have bought a ticket in advance will receive a 50 percent refund and those who have boarded on the day will simply pay half the fare.”
Brand new 'Polaris' trains manufactured in China will be used on the lines, however Mr Yeowart feels if the whole project is a success then there is no reason a manufacturing plant in the UK shouldn’t be established.
Although the first train to London is likely to be three years away Mr Yeowart wants the people of Rochdale to know that this train service will be available, he said: “We want the people of Rochdale to know that this is coming soon. Other companies don’t offer a train from Rochdale to London but we want to show that we can do it.”
Alliance Rail Holdings have various proposals for all over the country including a train from Hull to Liverpool which will run on the Calder Valley Line.
Some of the projects are more likely to be passed than others but the firm is asking that they been looked at as one project, not individually.