Grand Central, the open-access train operator that links major towns and cities in Yorkshire and the North East with London, has announced that it will suspend all its services, for an initial two months, from the end of service on Friday 3 April.
For the past two weeks, Grand Central had operated a rail service, under a reduced timetable, in order to keep key workers moving at a time of crisis. As an open-access rail operator, this came with all the costs of running a train service, while bringing in no revenue to the business and with no government support.
This was clearly an unsustainable situation and, despite the backing of Grand Central’s parent company, the Deutsche Bahn-owned Arriva, managing director Richard McClean decided things couldn’t continue as they were.
“Following several days of discussion with the Department for Transport, Grand Central has decided to suspend all its services, for an initial two months, from the end of service on Friday 3 April,” he said. “We have also paused, until early 2021, the preparations for our new Blackpool to London Euston services, and the launch of our planned extra daily trains on Grand Central’s Sunderland to Kings Cross route.
“We will keep in close contact with the three main rail unions, to ensure the best possible outcome for our brilliant team during an initial two-month ‘hibernation’, and we will be making use of the Government’s furlough scheme. A skeleton team will continue working to ensure Grand Central is ready to resume services as a thriving train operator, serving communities across the country, once restrictions ease.
“I emphasise that these measures are necessary, but temporary. Grand Central enters this new chapter from a strong position. My team and I will do everything we can to get Grand Central back on track once restrictions are lifted.
“I want to thank everyone who continues to support us at this time and it heartens us to see we have many friends, in our suppliers, customers, community and business partners and across the political spectrum. We will keep you updated in the coming weeks.
“Finally, I want to thank the Grand Central team which has, without exception proved, professional, understanding and supportive throughout this situation.
“Grand Central will be back. And we will come back stronger and more resilient. Until then, stay safe.”