London's calling as high speed rail link plan is put back on track
LONDON's calling Cleethorpes once more with rail chiefs proposing to bring back a direct link to the capital.
If the plans are given the green light, commuters would be able to reach the city in a record two hours and 40 minutes.
Bosses at Alliance Rail said four trains a day would start at Cleethorpes, stopping at Grimsby, Habrough, Scunthorpe and Doncaster, and from there a non-stop journey to Kings Cross.
It would take an hour off the current journey time, which includes a change at Doncaster, and the link could also bring much-needed capital and jobs to North East Lincolnshire, the rail bosses have said.
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The last direct trains to the capital were axed in the late 1980s.
A previous application to restart the direct rail link to Cleethorpes, submitted by Renaissance Trains, hit the buffers two years ago because of the logistical problems of taking inter-city trains through Lincoln city centre.
Now Alliance Rail – owned by Berlin-based Deutsche Bahn, one of the world's biggest transport companies – hopes its fleet of new 140mph trains will be approved by the Office of Rail Regulation.
The bid is expected to be submitted imminently.
Managing director Ian Yeowart said off-peak tickets would cost about £39 one-way and hoped the line would be running by 2013.
"It would provide some much-needed linkage to that part of the country," he said.
"There's a huge amount of investment and these proposals are well thought-out.
"No other operator has ever introduced a fleet of new trains, which makes this an exciting proposal.
"If you are not on a direct rail link to London, you are not on the radar.
"It will be critical for North East Lincolnshire so they can enjoy the same benefits as cities like York, Leeds and Manchester.
"There will be new opportunities and the area could market itself in the same way York does."
If approved, the trains would operate through the Great North Eastern Railway Ltd (GNER) subsidiary.
An Office Of Rail Regulation spokesman said towns which have a poor passenger service are looked upon more favourably.
"We are having ongoing discussions with Alliance regarding its proposed services, but have not yet received any applications," he added.
North East Lincolnshire Council portfolio holder for highways and the environment, Councillor Peter Burgess, said: "This is something people have been lobbying for a long time.
"The rail link recognises the importance of the area. It's nice to think the name Cleethorpes will be back on the trains and heard in railway stations.
"It has been a long time since it was heard in London."
Mandy Barley, practice manager at estate agent Jackson, Green and Preston, said compared with the average price of £1 million for a three-bedroom detached house in London, housebuyers can pick up a similar home for £170,000 in North East Lincolnshire and commute to the capital.
"With that kind of journey time, commuting would be achievable," she added. "You might only need to do it a couple of times a week."
Rail user Sophie Brown, 18, a rail user from Itterby Crescent, Cleethorpes, said: "It will be great to go and do some sightseeing, shopping and the shows without having the change at Doncaster, which is boring and tedious."