Great North Western Railway (GNWR), a subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains, has been granted 12 paths per day per direction on the West Coast Main Line to introduce services from London Euston to Blackpool and Huddersfield via Manchester Victoria in competition with Virgin Trains, which up to now has a monopoly on the London – northwest England corridor.

Consultation is now underway with other operators and interested parties. This is expected to be completed in early July and the application will then go to ORR for final approval.

If ORR approves the open-access deal, GNWR plans to acquire eight six-car Pendolino trains from Alstom and start recruiting more than 200 staff.

GNWR wants to launch a London – Blackpool service of six round trips a day in early 2017, followed by six round trips a day between London, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield and Leeds in 2018. These dates tie in with electrification work currently underway in northwest England.

GNWR made its initial application to introduce services on four routes from London in December 2011. It says, it will continue to engage with NR to obtain paths for its planned services to the Cumbrian coast and Bradford.