IT has been dubbed 'the Battle of Waterloo' after a new rail firm announced plans to run a service through Hampshire to London.

In what is being seen as the start of a rail war train company Alliance Rail Holdings have revealed plans to launch a service with cheaper fares and more seats for passengers.

The firm has begun a consultation to start a route by the end of next year which would call Eastleigh, Winchester, Basingstoke and Hook, before heading for London Waterloo.

Alliance is bidding for a "open access' service which means it would operate outside of the main franchise for the area which is currently held by South West Trains.

The company says it will use trains offering 600 seats on each service, with both Standard and First class accommodation provided.

They hope the competition will benefit passengers who could see cheaper fares and better choice of services as a result of the move.

Managing Director of Alliance Ian Yeowart said: "Nowhere south of the river has seen any competitive entry into the network at all since privatisation.

"What we are looking to do is to provide a competing service with cheaper tickets available and more seats available.

"We also hope to increase the quality of the train itself, so better quality seating, maybe adding back some of the things which used to be provided years ago like onboard catering, allowing people with season tickets to book seats on a specific train.

"We are now setting up some meetings with a number of user groups and rail groups to discuss the things they would like to see - we think we can deliver to give passengers some choice."

When asked about how the company would provide cheaper tickets than its competitors, Mr Yeowart said: "Where there is competition on the networks, operators against operators, the actual price of tickets is cheaper.

"If you're a monopoly supplier it is unlikely you will ever offer the cheapest ticket you possibly can.

Co-ordinator of South Hampshire Rail Users Group Dennis Fryer which represents passenger views welcomed the plan. He said: "In principle, it would be great.

"Privatisation was supposed to be all about competition and getting a better deal for passengers, but when it comes to South West Trains, people have just been paying more and more."

Following consultation, the application will be determined by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

ORR spokesperson Brian Clarke said: "We have not yet received an application from Alliance - at this stage its up to the industry to consult within the industry."

South West Trains declined to comment, because the potential start date of the new service was beyond the end of the current franchise which it is operating.

Performance data from South West Trains revealed that its average performance in the past year to October 15 on its mainline service had been on time 86.8% of the time whilst 99.4% of the time the train service was operated as per the timetable.

Panel Rail companies are invited to bid for franchises from the the government for routes around the country. South West Trains is the main provider in Hampshire with Southern, Cross Country and Great Western also providing services.

Open access train services as proposed by Alliance however, operate outside the franchise system.

An open access operator must offer a service that provides national and network benefits, is generally not otherwise available and does not duplicate routes already served by the network.