TILTING trains are set to be launched by a York rail firm on the East Coast Mainline from Edinburgh to London - but they won’t stop to pick up passengers from York station.

Alliance Rail Holdings, which is based in The Mount, plans to run up to 12 Pendolinos between Edinburgh, Newcastle and London by 2016 under the brand name Great North Eastern Railways (GNER).

Chris Hanks, the company's head of development, said journey times would initially be slashed from an average of 4 hours 20 minutes to 3 hours 43 minutes between London and Edinburgh, and to 2 hours 29 minutes between London and Newcastle.

But because the Pendolinos would be capable of running at 140 mph, there was the potential for GNER eventually to offer a journey between Edinburgh and London in under 3½ hours, once Network Rail had modernised signalling.

The first phase of such work should be completed at the end of 2018.

Mr Hanks said the tilting trains, which could travel at higher speeds on curved track, would be updated versions of the Pendolinos which had been successful in reducing long distance journey times on the West Coast Main Line.

He said that by reducing journey times, and focussing on the Newcastle and Edinburgh markets, GNER would encourage many travellers to switch from air to rail.

The trains would not stop in York because it had been calculated that this would add an extra four minutes to the journey time, and York is already served by both East Coast and Grand Central, however there is potential it could impact on future applications to use additional capacity on any part of the route.

The new service will require permission from the Office of Rail Regulation before it can be launched.

Alliance is headed by Ian Yeowart, former boss of York-based Grand Central, which - like Alliance - has Arriva as its parent company.

Mr Yeowart said the new service would be the most significant change on the East Coast Main Line since the introduction of High Speed Trains.

The future of the line's main operator, East Coast, is yet to be decided. The Government has said it wants to re-privatise the franchise but there have been calls for it to remain in public ownership.