Grand Central Railway
Open access operator|
Not subject to franchising
18 December 2007 – December 2026
Sunderland - London King's Cross|
Bradford Interchange - London King's Cross
3 High Speed Trains|
5 Class 180s
|Stations called at:||14|
|Parent company:||Arriva UK Trains|
Grand Central is an independent open-access operator in the United Kingdom. It has operated passenger rail services on the East Coast Main Line from Sunderland to London King's Cross since December 2007; and from Bradford Interchange to London King's Cross since May 2010. It is a subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains.
The origins of Grand Central can be traced back to the privatisation of British Rail, when bids were lodged for the Midland Mainline and Regional Railways North East franchises by Ian Yeowart and a consortium of ex-British Rail managers under the Grand Central name. The company was dissolved in March 1998.
In April 2000 a new company, Grand Central Railway Company Ltd, was founded to pursue open-access opportunities.
In 2003 Grand Central applied to the Office of Rail Regulation to operate a two-hourly open-access service from Newcastle via the Caldervale Line and Manchester Victoria to Bolton using ex Virgin CrossCountry High Speed Trains. The application was rejected in June 2004.
Coach operator Fraser Eagle Group purchased a 79% shareholding in Grand Central in 2004.
In February 2005 Grand Central applied to the Office of Rail Regulation to operate four daily services from Sunderland to London King's Cross and four daily services from Bradford Interchange to London King's Cross using Class 67 locomotives hauling five Mark 3 carriages and a Driving Van Trailer. In March 2006 the Office of Rail Regulation granted Grand Central access rights for three daily Sunderland to London King's Cross services, but only with 125 mph-capable rolling stock, ruling out the Class 67 option. After failing at an Office of Rail Regulation hearing to have the process reversed, GNER sought a judicial review of the decision to grant Grand Central access rights but was rejected by the High Court in July 2006.
Fraser Eagle sold its 79% shareholding in Grand Central in March 2007 to two former managers of Prism Rail, backed by a private equity group.
Operations began on 18 December 2007 between Sunderland and London King's Cross. While awaiting delivery of all of the rolling stock, initially only one Sunderland - Kings Cross and one York - Kings Cross service operated in each direction. The full timetable was introduced in March 2008. Mechanical problems with the High Speed Trains led to services being regularly cancelled, resulting in a reduced service being operated from May until July 2008.
In March 2008 Grand Central applied to the Office of Rail Regulation to operate three daily services from Bradford Interchange to London King's Cross. In January 2009 Grand Central was granted access rights for three daily Bradford Interchange to London King's Cross services until December 2014 and a fourth Sunderland to London King's Cross service until May 2012. In August 2009 the fourth daily Sunderland - London service started.
On 23 May 2010 Grand Central services between Bradford Interchange and London King's Cross began. It was hoped that the service would start in December 2009, but difficulties in securing rolling stock caused delay.
In November 2011 Grand Central was bought out by Arriva UK Trains. At the time of the takeover, Grand Central had 123 employees, a turnover of £18.9m and debts of £44m.
From December 2011 Bradford services made an additional stop at Mirfield. In December 2012, a fifth service on the Sunderland to London route, however due to pathing difficulties it initially commenced at Hartlepool. In December 2013, a fourth daily Bradford to London Kings Cross service commenced.
Routes and services
|North East route diagram|
|West Riding route diagram|
Grand Central connects Yorkshire and the North East to London with two routes.
Five daily services on the North East to London route run between Sunderland and London King's Cross calling at Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe, Northallerton, Thirsk and York. This route is known as the "North Eastern service".
Four daily services which run on the Yorkshire to London route operate between Bradford Interchange and London King's Cross calling at Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield Kirkgate, and Doncaster. Some services also call at Pontefract Monkhill. This is known as the West Riding or West Yorkshire service.
Grand Central has given names to two trains on its Sunderland route. Contrary to tradition in British named train services, these are not pairs but individual one-way trips. In the 2008 timetable, the name The Zephyr was given to the early morning (06:41) departure from Sunderland, while the evening (16:50) train from London was called The 21st Century Limited. No mention of these was made from the 2012 timetable.
In May 2018 Grand Central will commence operating services on the West Coast Main Line from London Euston to Blackpool after the Office of Rail and Road granted fellow Arriva subsidiary Alliance Rail Holdings access rights for 10 years.
Grand Central's application to the Office of Rail Regulation in February 2005 had proposed using Class 67 locomotives hauling five Mark 3 carriages and a Driving Van Trailer. As the paths were only granted on the basis of 125 mph stock being used, other stock had to be sourced. It was then proposed to use a fleet of Bombardier Transportation five-carriage Class 222s, similar to those already in use with Midland Mainline and Hull Trains. Difficulty in securing these led to Grand Central deciding to use High Speed Trains.
In October 2006 sister company Sovereign Trains purchased six Class 43 power cars and 24 Mark 3 trailer vehicles from Porterbrook. The Class 43s, that all had buffers fitted when they were modified in the late 1980s for use with the Class 91 locomotives during the electrification of the East Coast Main Line, were sent for overhaul at DML, Plymouth. The Mark 3s were overhauled at Marcroft Engineering, Stoke-on-Trent. Eighteen of the Mark 3s were former Virgin West Coast loco-hauled carriages that required rewiring in order to work with the power cars due to different electrical requirements.
Due to delays encountered during the overhauls, Grand Central investigated leasing spare High Speed Trains from Midland Mainline. However nothing came of this and it wasn't until December 2007 that enough stock had been delivered for operations to commence. The full fleet was in service by March 2008.
Problems encountered with the rolling stock with at one stage all six power cars out of traffic, saw Grand Central hire Class 67s from English Welsh & Scottish, Class 47s from Riviera Trains and Class 57s from Virgin Trains to haul Riviera Trains Mark 2 carriages on shuttles from Sunderland to York in summer 2008 as well as High Speed Train power cars from Midland Mainline.
To operate the fourth Sunderland service two Class 180s were leased from Angel Trains in 2009 followed in 2010 by another three to operate the Bradford services. Before entering service, 180112 was named James Herriot in July 2009. The remaining two units, 180105 and 180114, entered service later in 2009. Grand Central secured two further Class 180s, 180101 and 180107, bringing the total number to five. The Class 180 fleet operate both Sunderland and Bradford services, with the InterCity 125 trains usually only operating services to Sunderland, although they have operated to Bradford on occasions.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Carriages||Number||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 43 High Speed Train||Diesel Locomotive||125||200||N/A||6||Sunderland - London King's Cross||1976–1982|
|Mark 3 Carriage||Passenger Carriage||125||200||16||Sunderland - London King's Cross||1975–1988|
|Class 180||Diesel multiple unit||125||200||5||5||Bradford Interchange/Sunderland - London King's Cross||2001|
In September 2014 Grand Central announced it would operate an all-Class 180 fleet from 2017 after agreeing a lease for five currently operated by Great Western Railway with the High Speed Trains to be withdrawn. Grand Central will purchase four Pendolino trains for its West Coast services.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Carriages||Number||Routes operated||Built|
|Pendolino||Electric multiple unit||125||200||6||4||Blackpool - London Euston|
In addition to its Kings Cross to Sunderland and Bradford services, Grand Central also expressed interest in operating other services.
In February 2005, Grand Central lodged an application with the Office of Rail Regulation to operate a three times a day York to Chester via the Caldervale Line service with Class 158s. This service would have called at Leeds, Wakefield Kirkgate, Brighouse, Rochdale, Manchester Victoria and Warrington Bank Quay.
Bradford Interchange-London Euston
In September 2006 Grand Central announced a proposal to run services from Bradford Interchange via Huddersfield and the West Coast Main Line to London Euston. This service would have called at Halifax, Brighouse, Huddersfield, Stalybridge, Guide Bridge, Stockport, Crewe, Lichfield Trent Valley, Tamworth and Nuneaton. The proposal was dropped due Virgin Trains' Moderation of Competition protection preventing any other operators from operating on the West Coast Main Line.
Lincoln-London King's Cross
In June 2010 following East Coast deciding not to proceed with plans for a proposed two hourly service between Lincoln and London King's Cross, Grand Central expressed an interest in running services, but was rejected. This service would have called at Newark North Gate and Grantham.
Blackpool North to London Euston
In November 2010 Grand Central applied to the Office of Rail Regulation to operate a new service running four times a day in each direction, between Blackpool North and London Euston via the West Coast Main Line calling at Poulton-le-Fylde, Kirkham & Wesham, Preston, Hartford, Tamworth and Nuneaton. Grand Central sought to run these services from May 2012, using Class 67 locomotives hauling nine Mark 3 carriages and a Driving Van Trailer running at up to 110 miles per hour (177 km/h), until such time as the Blackpool North - Preston line was electrified. In March 2011 the Office of Rail Regulation rejected the application on the basis the service would be primarily abstractive, meaning it would generate most of its revenue by drawing custom away from existing operators rather than bringing new custom to the rail network.
There would have been a daily service between Hartford and Euston calling at Lichfield Trent Valley, Tamworth and Nuneaton, but it was rejected by the Office Rail of Regulation.
- Companies House extract company no 3979826 Grand Central Company Limited
- About Grand Central. Grand Central.
- Companies House extract company no 2867426 Grand Central Railway Company Limited (Mark 1)
- "NYMR confirms RRNE bid plan" Rail Privatisation News issue 36 8 August 1996 page 6
- "Grand Central to 'go it alone' with franchise bids as NYMR pulls out" Rail Magazine issue 289 9 October 1996 page 12
- "RRNE franchise process revealed" Rail Privatisation News issue 45 9 January 1997 page 1
- Grand Central & Marilyn GC Magazine Issue 1 Summer 2008
- "Yeowart challenging the old guard" Rail Magazine issue 632 2 December 2009
- Companies House extract company no 3979826 Grand Central Railway Company Limited (Mark 2)
- "Grand Central Railway plans new use for HSTs" The Railway Magazine issue 1203 July 2001 page 15
- Application to the Regulator for a Passenger Track Access Contract Under Section 17 of the Railways Act 1993. Office of Rail Regulation.
- "Grand Central announces Trans-Pennine plan" Entrain issue 24 December 2003 page 15
- Application by Grand Central Railways Company Limited for a Track Access Contract Office of Rail Regulation June 2004
- "Plans for new rail link hit the buffers". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
- "Grand Central plans rejected as ORR says figures don't stack up" Rail Magazine issue 491 7 July 2004 page 10
- "Grand Central's Trans-Pennine HST plan is axed by Regulator" Rail Express issue 99 August 2004 page 4
- "Regulator gives thumbs down to Grand Central" The Railway Magazine issue 1240 August 2004 page 7
- Fly like an eagle EN Magazine 2006
- Application to the Regulator for a Passenger Track Access Contract Under Section 17 of the Railways Act 1993. Office of Rail Regulation.
- [Class 67s and Mk 3s for Grand Central's London-Bradford plan Rail Magazine issue 505 19 January 2005 page 10
- "Grand Central aims for Bradford service" The Railway Magazine issue 1246 February 2005 page 11
- "GC asks ORR for London link" Rail Magazine issue 511 13 April 2005 page 17
- Office of Rail Regulation decision on applications for the Track Access Rights necessary to operate additional passenger services on the East Coast Main Line Office of Rail Regulation March 2006
- "Grand Central wins East Coast paths approval" Rail Magazine issue 533 15 February 2006 page 12
- "Grand Central service approved as Hull Trains allowed to continue with fifth path" Today's Railways issue 53 May 2006 page 10
- Allen, Katie (28 July 2006). "GNER fails to block rival's east coast line service". The Guardian. London.
- "Decisions Decisions". Rail Professional. September 2006.
- "GNER fury as Grand Central wins ECML paths" The Railway Magazne issue 1261 May 2006 page 4
- Harrison, Michael (14 March 2007). "Former Prism bosses buy Grand Central in £10 million deal". The Independent. London. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
- "On track for a rail profit" Lancashire Telegraph 19 March 2007
- "Grand Central sold but service unlikely to start on schedule" Rail Express issue 132 May 2007 page 6
- Smith, Ross (7 October 2006). "London rail service winner has no trains". The Journal. Newcastle upon Tyne. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
- "Second delay for new rail service". BBC News Online. 26 April 2007. Retrieved 27 April 2007.
- "A message from Grand Central's new Managing Director Tom Clift" (Press release). Grand Central. 16 October 2007. Archived from the original on 14 November 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
- "Grand Central set for March launch". The Railway Centre. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
- "Latest news on Grand Central launch" (Press release). Grand Central. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 21 November 2007.
- "Right away at last for Grand Central" Today's Railways issue 74 February 2008 page 9
- "Grand Central: worth the wait?" Rail Magazine issue 585 13 February 2008 page 41
- "Train firm forced to cut services". BBC News. 20 May 2008.
- "New delay for troubled rail firm". BBC News. 7 July 2008.
- Track Access Rights on the East Coast Main Line Grand Union 28 March 2008
- "Grand Union applies to run Bradford-London services" Rail Magazine issue 591 7 May 2008 page 14
- ORR announces its proposed decision on East Coast Main Line track access applications Office of Rail Regulation 29 January 2009
- "Grand Northern set for Bradford" Rail Magazine issue 611 11 February 2009 page 20
- Clark, Kevin (17 August 2009). "Grand Central starts fourth train to King's Cross". Sunderland Echo. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
- "Additional Grand Central service begins" The Railway Magazine issue 1302 October 2009 page 73
- ORR approves East Coast Main Line track access applications Office of Rail Regulation 11 February 2010
- "West Riding Timetable" (PDF). Grand Central. May 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
- "An historic journey to London with Grand Central West Riding Service". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
- "May start for Grand Central Bradford services" Today's Railways issue 101 May 2010 page 11
- "GC eyes further destinations as West Yorkshire trains start" Rail Magazine issue 645 2 June 2010 page 14
- "Grand Central starts Bradford service" The Railway Magazine issue 1311 July 2010 page 6
- Drury, Colin (19 August 2009). "London rail link blow: Service will be delayed until May". Halifax Evening Courier. Retrieved 21 August 2009.
- "Arriva acquires open access operator Grand Central Railway" (Press release). Arriva. 4 November 2011.
- Milner, Chris (5 November 2011). "Arriva acquires open access operator Grand Central Railway". The Railway Magazine. Horncastle. Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- "Germans buy open-access operator Grand Central". Railnews. Stevenage. 4 November 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- Laing, Iain (5 November 2011). "Transport giant Arriva takeover (sic) Grand Central". The Journal. Newcastle upon Tyne. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
- Mirfield gets direct rail services to and from London Grand Central 9 December 2011
- Extra daily train service to and from London Kings Cross from December Grand Central 24 October 2012
- "ORR approves Grand Central's fourth Bradford service" Rail Magazine issue 725 26 June 2013 page 15
- Application to the Office of Rail Regulation for a track access agreement. Grand Central. August 2013.
- "Grand Central Sunderland to London rail service given 10 year extension" Sunderland Echo 7 August 2014
- "GC green light to run until 2026" Rail Magazine issue 755 20 August 2014 page 13
- Timetable Grand Central
- New direct rail services between Blackpool and London Arriva 7 August 2015
- "Alliance Blackpool Service Approved" Modern Railways issue 804 September 2015 page 8
- "Grand Central wants Class 222s" The Railway Magazine issue 1252 August 2005 page 6
- "GC in HST deal talks" Rail Magazine Issue 546 16 August 2006 page 14
- Grand Central Railway to operate HST power cars and loco-hauled Mk3s TheRailwayCentre.com 5 October 2006
- Sectorisation 125 Group
- Privatisation October 2005 - Present 125 Group
- "Grand Central buys HST and Mk 3s" The Railway Magazine issue 1268 December 2006 page 71
- "Grand Central buys its own stock" Today's Railways issue 60 December 2006 page 6
- "HST not ready for GC open access launch next month" Rail Magazine issue 564 25 April 2007 page 7
- "More stock…Grand Central finally starts its full timetable" Rail Magazine issue 587 12 March 2008 page 13
- "Full Grand Central service underway" Today's Railways issue 77 May 2008 page 15
- "Grand Central's full service is up and running" The Railway Magazine" issue 1285 May 2008 page 78
- Grand Central Class 47 Haulage, 2008 Sulzer Power
- "Grand Central hires 67s as two of three HSTs fail" Rail Magazine Issue 591 7 May 2008 page 16
- "Grand Central turns to loco-hauled Mark 2s as HSTs struggle" Today's Railways issue 78 June 2008 page 11
- "Grand Central ditches 47s in favour of 57s" Rail Magazine Issue 595 2 July 2008 page 12
- Angel Trains in HST Lease-Back Deal with Grand Central Angel Trains 2 March 2010
- "Angel Trains buys Grand Central's High Speed Trains" Rail Magazine issue 639 10 March 2010 page 15
- "Grand Central deal will see last six Valenta-engined HST power cars rebuilt" Rail Express issue 167 April 2010 page 5
- "Angel acquires Grand Central HSTs: MTU engines on way" Today's Railways issue 101 May 2010 page 60
- New Trains for the New Service Grand Central
- "Two Adelantes on their way to Grand Central" Rail Magazine issue 613 11 March 2009 page 10
- "Grand Central to get Adelantes" The Railway Magazine issue 1296 April 2009 page 83
- "GC secures lease for two 180s" Today's Railways issue 89 May 2009 page 63
- Grand Central signs up three additional trains for new 'West Riding' service Grand Central
- Network Rail Acceptance of proposed vehicle change, 11 June 2008.
- "Grand Central honours Yorkshire vet 'James Herriot'" (PDF). Railway Herald (188). Scunthorpe. August 2009. p. 3. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
- Miles, Tony (August 2009). "Third Adelante for Grand Union". Modern Railways. London. p. 92.
- "GC sets out plan for five '180s' by 2010". Rail (624). Peterborough. 12 August 2009. p. 15.
- "Rare Bradford visit for Grand Central HST" Rail Magazine issue 766 21 January 2015 page 31
- "New look GC HST" The Railway Magazine issue 1315 November 2010 page 76
- "Grand Central Rail Seeks Contract Extension" (Press release). Grand Central. 5 August 2013.
- "Grand Central to acquire five FGW 180s" Rail Magazine issue 759 15 October 2014 page 11
- London - Blackpool open access service approved Railway Gazette International 7 August 2015
- "Grand Central aims for Chester and Sunderland" Rail Express issue 103 December 2004 page 12
- New rail routes planned The Telegraph 20 September 2006
- Off to London from Huddersfield station The Huddersfield Daily Examiner 21 September 2006
- "Grand Central plans for Huddersfield via WCML" Rail Magazine issue 549 27 September 2006 page 8
- "Grand Northern drops Bradford-Euston bid" Rail Magazine issue 602 8 October 2008 page 18
- "Lincoln to London rail service could be saved by another train operator". Lincolnshire Echo. Lincoln. 25 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- "Application to the Office of Rail Regulation for a passenger track access contract under section 17 of the Railways Act 1993" (PDF). Office of Rail Regulation. 2010.
- Miles, Tony (December 2010). "Blackpool through service proposed in West Coast path frenzy". Modern Railways. London. p. 6.
- "Regulator announces conclusions on future track access rights for the West Coast Main Line" (Press release). Office of Rail Regulation. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
refused Grand Central's application … failed our not primarily abstractive test
- Approval of the Twenty-sixth supplemental agreement to the track access contract between Network Rail Infrastructure Limited and Grand Central Railway Company Limited Office of Rail Regulation 17 April 2012
Media related to Grand Central Railway at Wikimedia Commons