Grand Central (Train Operating Company) - Grand Central History - B

Grand Central (Train Operating Company) - B

Grand Central History

The origins of Grand Central can be traced back to the privatisation of British Rail during the mid-1990s. Several bids were submitted under the Grand Central name by Ian Yeowart and a consortium of ex-British Rail managers to operate Midland Mainline and Regional Railways North East franchises. However, none of the bids it made resulted in a franchise being awarded. In light of this, during March 1998, the company was formally dissolved.

  • In April 2000, a new company. 'Grand Central Railway Company', was founded to pursue open-access opportunities. One year later, it was publicly proposing to obtain second hand Intercity 125 sets with which to run its own services.
  • During June 2003, Grand Central applied to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to operate a two-hourly open-access service from Newcastle to Bolton via the Caldervale Line and Manchester Victoria using InterCity 125 trains from Virgin CrossCountry.
  • In June 2004, this track-access application was rejected.
  • While establishing its operations, Grand Central reached out to the coach operator Fraser Eagle Group for assistance, during March 2006, Fraser Eagle opted to acquire a 79% shareholding in the venture. In response to the acquisition, Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) threatened to sever business ties with Fraser Eagle Group, with which it had active contracts to provide rail replacement buses.
  • In February 2005, Grand Central applied to the ORR 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 ORR granted Grand Central access rights for three daily Sunderland to London King's Cross services. After unsuccessfully attempting to have the process reversed at an ORR hearing, the franchised operator GNER sought a judicial review of the decision to grant Grand Central access rights, but this was rejected by the High Court in July 2006.
  • During March 2007, it was announced that Fraser Eagle had sold its 79% shareholding in Grand Central for £10 million to a pair of former managers of Prism Rail, who were backed by a private equity group.
  • Operations were originally due to start in May 2007, however, delays in the procurement and refurbishment of rolling stock were reportedly encountered.
  • On 18 December 2007, operations commenced between Sunderland and London King's Cross. While awaiting delivery of all of the rolling stock, Grand Central initially operated only one Sunderland – King's Cross and one York – King's Cross service in each direction.
  • During March 2008, the full timetable was introduced. Mechanical problems with the InterCity 125 fleet led to services being regularly cancelled, as well as a reduced service being operated between May and July 2008.
  • During March 2008, Grand Central applied to the ORR to operate three daily services from Bradford Interchange to London King's Cross. In January 2009, it was granted access rights for three daily Bradford Interchange to King's Cross services until December 2014 and a fourth Sunderland to London King's Cross service until May 2012. During August 2009, the fourth daily Sunderland - London service started.
  • In February 2010, the ORR announced that all access rights had been extended until December 2016.
  • On 23 May 2010, Grand Central services between Bradford Interchange and 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 for an undisclosed amount. At the time of the takeover, Grand Central had 123 employees, a turnover of £18.9 million and debts of £44 million.
  • Since December 2011, Bradford services have made an additional stop at Mirfield.
  • During December 2012, a fifth service was operated on the Sunderland to London route, however, on account of pathing difficulties, it initially commenced at Hartlepool.
  • In December 2013, a fourth daily Bradford to London King's Cross service commenced.
  • In August 2014, Grand Central was granted an extension of its operating rights until December 2026.

Grand Central (Train Operating Company) Overview

Grand Central Franchise(s):
Open-access operator
Not subject to franchising
18 December 2007 – December 2026

Grand Central Main Route(s):
Sunderland - London King's Cross
Bradford Interchange - London King's Cross

Grand Central Fleet Size: 10x Class 180 Adelantes
Grand Central Stations Called At: 15
Grand Central Stations Operated: 0
Grand Central Parent Company: Arriva UK Trains
Grand Central Reporting Mark: GC

Grand Central (E) Services Route

Bradford Interchange

Low Moor

Mirfield                                Sunderland
Wakefield Kirkgate            Hartlepool
Pontefract Monkhill          Northallerton
Doncaster                           York

                                             London King's Cross

Grand Central (W) Services Route

Blackpool North
Kirkham and Wesham
Milton Keynes Central
London Euston


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