AN APPLICATION has been officially submitted by Grand Union to run a new rail service between Stirling and London via Carlisle and Lockerbie.

The proposed service would run four times a day starting from May 2021, and would start at Stirling, calling at Larbert, Greenfaulds, Whifflet, Motherwell and Lockerbie in Scotland, before crossing the border to Carlisle, Preston, Crewe, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes, then terminating at London Euston.

Rail bosses say the new route would link towns which have limited or no long-distance cross border train services into the wider rail network, providing improved connectivity in Scotland as well as competitive services for some stations on the West Coast Main Line.

Grand Union is proposing to base the new operation in Scotland where the trains would be maintained, with an additional base at Preston or Crewe to operate the southern end of the route.

The new operation is expected to create about 100 new and permanent full-time roles.

David Prescott, director of marketing and development at Grand Union, said: “This new train services will transform the connectivity of a number of significant and rapidly changing Scottish towns along the Scottish Central corridor from Stirling through Falkirk and Lanarkshire.

"Each station has been chosen because of the benefits and opportunities it brings.

"Grand Union’s service will open up tourism opportunities, improve business options, provide new leisure travel opportunities and help reduce people’s reliance on air travel.

“We will be able to provide people a faster and more comfortable journey and eliminate the need to change trains by avoiding Glasgow and Edinburgh, meaning people will be able to complete the journey from Stirling to London in just over five and a half hours.

Discussions are set to commence soon with Transport Scotland, local authorities and ScotRail on a station upgrades at Lockerbie to improve passenger and staff facilities, matching the standard of other stations on the route.

A number of Class 91 locomotives will be used by Grand Union, with up to nine Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer on each of its trains, which are currently operating with LNER on the East Coast Main Line.

The trains will be available for crew and route training, ramping up from autumn next year, ahead of services starting in May 2021.