Plans for new direct rail services between Blackpool and London look set to be on track this year after the company behind it revealed it was set to start training drivers.
Grand Central, part of the Arriva group, which is itself part of Deutsche Bahn, is planning to run five direct trains in each direction to the capital every weekday and Saturday and four on Sundays.
A provisional timetable has been seen by the Gazette which shows trains running from Blackpool via Kirkham and Wesham, Preston, Nuneaton, Milton Keynes and London Euston after the May timetable changes.
It shows the first weekday trains from Blackpool North will run at 10.05am, followed by 11.49am, 3.01pm, 7pm and 8 40pm.
Trains from London start with a 10.43am service, then run at 2.38pm, 3.33pm, 6.43pm and 10.37pm.
On Saturdays trains start from Blackpool at 10.48am, then 12.46pm, 3.46pm, 6.47pm and 10.26pm.
From London they run at 10.39am, 2.36pm, 5.32pm, 8.26pm and 10.21pm.
Sunday trains from Blackpool to London run from 12.40pm, 3.59pm, 7.36pm and 9.16pm.
From Euston to Blackpool North they run at 2.59pm, 4.29pm, 8.27pm and 11.36pm.
A Grand Central spokesman said: “We’re very much looking forward to launching services on our new route from Blackpool to London Euston in Spring 2020.
“Recruitment for staff is still ongoing and we expect to be able to begin training with our new employees early in the New Year.”
Grand Central Railway Company already provides direct rail connections from towns and cities in Yorkshire and the North East England with London.
It said its customer satisfaction levels were consistently high and it was named Britain’s best value rail operator for the eighth time in the Spring 2019 National Rail Passenger Survey.
The plans to run the trains, in addition to the normal West Coast Main Line services now run by Avanti, were approved in June 2018, by the Office of Rail and Road and were welcomed by MPs Paul Maynard and Mark Menzies.