Grand Central, an open access train operator and part of the Arriva Group, has begun consultation with other train companies and the infrastructure operator Network Rail to operate more trains per day. The new services would run on its current routes as well as offer new direct journey opportunities for passengers travelling to and from Peterborough.
Following consultation, the application will be submitted to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for consideration.
If approved, the move will bring Grand Central’s current daily North East route operation to six return services (currently five) and its West Yorkshire route would see six trains to London and five returning from London throughout the day (currently four). These additional train services will provide an additional 1,600 daily seats to or from the capital, in response to demand from its customers for more services for their local communities.
These additional services will be operated by Grand Central’s Adelante fleet, which is currently undergoing a significant refurbishment programme.
Last month (January), Grand Central was ranked No. 1 for overall journey satisfaction, and was also rated best value long distance train operator for the sixth year running (National Rail Passenger Survey, Autumn 2017).
The train operator was also the highest rated for customer satisfaction amongst British leisure and commuter travellers, according to research published by consumer champion Which? in January.
Grand Central, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in late 2017, is requesting additional access rights to allow it to operate:
- One additional return Sunderland to London Kings Cross service – proposed to operate in the current gaps in the North East timetable with a mid-morning departure from Sunderland and a mid-afternoon departure from Kings Cross.
- One additional train between Bradford Interchange and London, departing Bradford late afternoon.
- An early morning service from Wakefield Kirkgate to London arriving into London before 07:30am.
- A 10-carriage late evening service departing London before 22:00pm. The train would split at Doncaster with one part of the train returning to Wakefield and one part continuing on to York.
- Calls at Peterborough in the early morning and late evening West Yorkshire route services, as well as two of its North East services. This will provide passengers with additional journey opportunities to and from the North East and West Yorkshire, as well as providing additional choice for passengers travelling between Peterborough and London.
Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central, said: “The proposed additional services are an important part of Grand Central’s longer term strategic development, building on the strong growth we have seen on our existing routes.
“We believe that expanding our operations will benefit both our existing and potential new passengers, as well as grow existing markets.
“As well as bringing additional benefits to our customers, we see these additional services as continuing the economic growth we have supported in communities along our routes by enabling social mobility and enabling communities to thrive.
“The proposed services are essential to encouraging competition in the rail market and to connecting communities and businesses. By offering low fares and benefits which are valued by our customers such as free WiFi and plenty of legroom, we aim to make train travel an attractive and affordable option.
“We’re pleased to present these growth proposals and we hope the ORR and the wider rail industry share our vision for sustainable investment in the long term.”