ALLIANCE RAIL Holdings says paths have been identified for its proposed open access service between London Waterloo and Southampton.

The company has made an application for paths to operate services on the South Western main line using Class 442 EMUs. Originally it hoped to begin operation, under the name Grand Southern Railway, in December this year, but now hopes to introduce the first services in 2018.

Close work with Network Rail has led to an offer of seven weekday return paths, the company reports. NR was expected to ‘further respond’ to the Office of Rail and Road, which will decide on the application later in the year, by the end of July. The initial seven paths are likely to be at off-peak times, with Alliance hoping to add peak services later.

Alliance hopes the service will bring increased competition and capacity on a route where it says there are ‘severe overcrowding problems’. It says the Class 442s will include both first and standard class accommodation, with peak trains offering 600 seats on each service. It is intended services would call at Eastleigh, Winchester, Basingstoke and Hook.

New South Western franchise operator First MTR plans to use 18 of the 24 Class 442s displaced from Gatwick Express services on its London to Portsmouth route, leaving six of the class, which are owned by Angel Trains, still available.

Valuable asset: loco No 37800 with Class 442 units Nos 2418 and 2415 en route to storage after coming out of service with Southern. The working is the 12.11 Three Bridges to Eastleigh Arlington at Winchfield on 5 July 2016.
Ken Brunt