Grand Central announces ‘measured return’ of North East trains

Grand Central has revealed that its North East rail services will start to return from the end of July.

The train operator announced that it will begin a “measured return” of its trains between Sunderland and Kings Cross from July 26 following a four-month suspension due to the coronavirus lockdown.

In a statement, Grand Central managing director Richard McClean thanked customers for their support while services have been suspended and invited passengers to once again “put their faith” in the company.

He said: “In late March it became obvious to us we couldn’t operate a viable rail service under the Government’s lockdown rules. Social distancing and a ban on non-essential travel meant we had no option but to put our trains to bed and place the majority of our staff on furlough.

“Since that decision we have worked hard to plan every aspect of a safe, sustainable return and we can now see that the lockdown has eased to such a degree for us to begin a measured return to service from late July.”

Mr McClean said the business would resume with two daily return services between Bradford Interchange and Kings Cross and a further three daily return services between Sunderland and Kings Cross with more added as demand increases.

Passenger and staff safety measures will include increased cleaning during the journey and overnight at depots, as well as protective equipment for staff.

Customers will be able to change their date of travel without penalty if their plans change.

“To be able to once again invite passengers to make seat reservations and buy tickets makes our return very real,” Mr McClean said.

“The values of the Grand Central you enjoyed before the lockdown, such as getting the basics right and caring for our customers and colleagues, are still very much here and we will uphold those values now while ensuring the absolute safety of our passengers and staff.

“We have stayed close to all of the work our fellow train operators have been doing and we’re confident our approach will work for everyone.

“We’ve engaged in wide-reaching passenger surveys over the past couple of months and we’ve listened to you all on what you expect safe train travel to look like.

“If you buy your tickets on our website and provide your contact details, we’ll be able to let you know the latest information you’ll need for your journey.”

Chronicle Live – Sunderland