New train service from south west Wales to London could bring 'lower fares'

The rail industry regulator said the decision will bring passengers a "greater choice of operator." Credit: PA Images/Google Maps

A new rail operator between Carmarthen and London Paddington is set to increase its daily services and could bring about lower fares for passengers.

That's according to industry regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), which approved plans for a new south west Wales to London line from December 2024.

New rail operator, Grand Union, is set to run five daily return services between London Paddington and Carmarthen, calling at Llanelli, Gowerton, Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway.

The approval follows a previous Grand Union application for seven daily return services between London and Carmarthen, which was rejected. Credit: PA Images

The decision opens up the Great Western Main Line to competition for the first time, as the route's existing operator is Great Western Railway.

ORR say this decision could help lower farers and improve the service quality.

Currently, passengers travelling from Carmarthen to London only have two direct trains available to them each day.

As well as those travelling from south west Wales, passengers at Cardiff and Newport are also set to benefit. Credit: PA Images

Journeys outside of these two services usually require one or two changes at Swansea, Cardiff Central or Bristol Temple Meads.

Director of Strategy, Policy and Reform at ORR, Stephanie Tobyn, said: “This decision supports more choice for passengers, new direct journey opportunities, more price competition, and new comfortable trains.

“The added competition should also make a significant contribution to innovation in terms of the routes served, ticketing practices and service quality improvements, by both Grand Union and through the response of existing operators.”

The application, which was submitted to ORR in the summer, was initially disputed by Network Rail due to concerns about "capacity on the network".

But the regulator says it directed Network Rail, which owns and operates most of Britain's railway infrastructure, to enter into a contract with Grand Union "following careful consideration and analysis."

Grand Union will be an open access operator, meaning it will not receive subsidies from public funds.

Great Western Railway currently operate the route, meaning the decision opens the Great Western Main Line to competition for the first time. Credit: PA Images

It says it will use a fleet of new bi-mode trains, which can be powered by electricity or diesel, and that passengers will benefit from “best experience in the market” with bigger seats, more legroom, increased luggage space and a buffet car on every service.