A TRAIN company which had its bid to run regional rail services rejected is hoping to make it second time lucky.

Grand Central Railways' bid to run cut-price services on the TransPennine link between Newcastle and Manchester was rejected in June by Rail Regulator Tom Winsor.

Now the York firm is to return with a new bid and is seeking to run four trains a day on a different route between Sunderland and London Kings Cross via Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe, Thirsk, Northallerton and York. A further service involving three daily trains is planned between York and Chester.

In June's bid, Mr Winsor said most of the route that Grand Central planned to serve already had high-frequency, high-speed services using trains of a comparable quality and also said that he had doubts about the company's projected levels of income.

Ian Yeowart, a director of Grand Central Railways said: "This time we believe we have a rock solid business case for running these services.

"Our application will be complete in every respect and will answer all the questions the Rail Regulator posed of us."

Grand Central said a big city such as Sunderland should have a rail link to London, while the so-called Durham coast route taking in the likes of Sunderland and Hartlepool has been the subject of recent rail cuts. The firm said it had already invested £1m in the project and with the aid of private backers would require no subsidy to run train services.

Existing rolling stock will be used and up to 50 jobs could be created.

A formal proposal will be made in February with the aim of running trains from December next year.

Brian Milnes, chairman of the Tees Valley branch of Transport 2000, said: "Providing these trains are reliable and the plan is properly costed, this would be an excellent idea.

"At the moment, millions of pounds is being paid out by taxpayers to subsidise a second-rate service in some areas."