Train operator Grand Central has received approval to operate an additional daily return service from the North East to the capital, bringing its Monday – Saturday services to six in each direction and five on Sundays.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has granted access rights for Grand Central to operate an additional return service between Sunderland and London Kings Cross until at least 2021. Planning for the new services is now underway and the start date will be announced in the near future. This follows the completion of Grand Central’s £9million refurbishment programme.

This additional return service will provide additional journey opportunities between the capital, North Yorkshire and the North East, offering new and existing customers with 3,800 extra seats each week.

The new services will be a mid-morning departure at approximately 10:00 from Sunderland and a mid-afternoon departure at approximately 14:30 from London Kings Cross, Monday to Saturday. The additional Sunday service will depart at approximately 10:30 from Sunderland with the return departing London Kings Cross at approximately 15:30.

Richard McClean, Managing Director at Grand Central, said: “We’re delighted to be able to run an extra return daily service on our North East route between Sunderland and London.

“These additional services will support continued economic growth along our routes by enabling communities to thrive and providing more opportunities to connect people and places.

“New services are essential to providing choice in the rail market and to connecting communities and businesses. We’re pleased that the ORR shares our vision for sustainable investment in the rail industry. By offering low fares and benefits which are valued by our customers, we aim to make train travel and attractive and affordable option.”