Grand Central will be saying a fond farewell to its fleet of three High Speed Trains (HSTs) next month (December 2017).
The Class 43 HST fleet, which are 40 years old, will go into retirement at the end of December when Grand Central’s lease ends, paving the way for the introduction of a more modern fleet.
Grand Central’s fleet of three Class 43 High Speed Trains HSTs currently operates on its North East route, but will be withdrawn from service on New Year’s Eve. To mark the end of HST operations at Grand Central, a farewell charity railtour is planned for Sunday 17th December.
From January 2018, Class 180s will serve Grand Central’s two routes from Kings Cross to the North East and Yorkshire, calling at 15 stations. The train operating company, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, is also increasing the overall size of its fleet, from eight to ten train sets. Five of the Class 180s have been sub-leased to Great Western Railway, due to delays in the electrification programme, but will come into operation for Grand Central during 2018.
A consistent all-Class 180 fleet will mean greater capacity and more seats where the demand is highest, with the flexibility to run in a five or 10 carriage formation. The move will also give Grand Central greater resilience during disruption, with the option to swap trains around across its two routes. The Class 180 trains are already compliant with all necessary disability access standards.
Grand Central’s Class 180 trains are currently being upgraded and modernised as part of an 18-month refurbishment programme. The high-specification upgrade includes: a full interior refresh, new fabric seats with leather edging in standard class, exterior repaint, upgraded catering facilities, new toilet facilities with improved disabled access, with LED lighting throughout.
Dave Hatfield, Grand Central’s Fleet Director, said: “Our HSTs are well-loved by our customers, colleagues and rail enthusiasts and we’ll be saying a fond farewell to them at the end of this year.
“Coinciding with our 10th anniversary, this is both a landmark and a major milestone in Grand Central’s history. We’re looking forward to 2018 when we can offer a more modern, fully refurbished fleet with greater capacity and flexibility for the benefit of our customers.”
A Grand Farewell: landmark charity rail tour
To mark the end of HST operations at Grand Central, a charity railtour has been organised for Sunday 17 December 2017. It is hoped the event will raise around £25,000 to be split between the Railway Children charity and Railway Benefit Fund.
Thanks to the support of various industry organisations, the tour will take an unusual and attractive route, including pick-ups at Newcastle, Sunderland, Hartlepool, York and Doncaster, with a midday leg stretch break at Sheffield.
The train tour will take in some unusual freight lines and sidings, including Roberts Road Depot (Doncaster), as well as taking a scenic trip via the Hope and Calder Valley routes on the journey from Sheffield to Manchester, prior to returning towards the North East.
Both charities will be undertaking a range of fundraising activities and enhanced catering will be offered on board.
To find out more and to book a seat on the Grand Farewell tour please visit https://www.branchline.uk/
Grand Central is celebrating its 10th anniversary and its trains cover over 1.5million train miles and carriers more than 1.4million passenger journeys every year.