First Group has announced it has submitted an application which could see a direct train link to London for Rochdale and Eccles passengers, improving connections for the Greater Manchester towns.

All of the trains as part of the plan will be electric and battery powered and are set to be built in the UK.

The new trains would operate a proposed six return journeys a day, restoring the Rochdale / London link that last ran in 2000.

Services will call at Rochdale, Manchester Victoria, Eccles (Manchester), Newton-le-Willows and Warrington Bank Quay on their way to London Euston.

It is estimated that should discussions with the ORR and Network Rail be successful, the service could start as early as 2027.

FirstGroup Chief Executive Officer, Graham Sutherland said We have extensive experience of running open access rail operations and we want to bring our successful Lumo service to this new route that connects Rochdale and London. We have seen the level of growth and opportunity that is possible with open access, as well as the positive effect it has on the wider market, including economic and environmental benefits. In addition, the new service will help to drive modal shift from road to rail between the North West and London. We will be working closely with stakeholders as we build our application and our case for this new service.”