Following the statutory period of consultation undertaken by the ORR Grand Central has been given permission to begin operation of passenger services on the Sunderland to London route. Services are expected to commence in September 2007, and will serve the following locations:
These services will provide many new journey opportunities for communities along the routes. An initial service of 6 trains a day on each route has been agreed (3 in each direction), and a 4th one is being pursued.
On the Durham Coast route the key communities of Sunderland, Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe and Thirsk will have direct trains to London for the first time in many years, as well as direct links to York and connectional opportunities beyond. Northallerton and York will see an improvement in services, better access to the station, and more passenger choice.
Grand Central will also be seeking a timetable for trains to commence on the Bradford – London route during the timetable that commences in December 2008, with sister company Grand Union seeking to operate on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between Euston and Huddersfield/Bradford from 2011.
In the future passengers at Bradford will see their current poor service increased by 4 in each direction, with new links for the important communities of Halifax and Huddersfield (through Brighouse). Services will operate through Wakefield Kirkgate, Pontefract and Doncaster, opening the opportunity for some re-development of the severely run down Wakefield Kirkgate and providing direct links to the 5 Towns of Castleford, Pontefract, Knottingly, Normanton and Featherstone at Pontefract.
Grand Central believes tickets should be easy to purchase and easy to understand as well as offering outstanding value for money.
Grand Central recognises that obtaining a seat should be part of the expectation for fare paying passengers. In the event that a seat is not available, Grand Central ticket holders will receive a refund of 50% of the fare paid - read more at Times Online or watch the Sky News report.
Seat reservations will be offered free of charge on purchase of Grand Central tickets.
Special offers will be available from time to time, but the basis of the fares structure is to be honest about the probable cost, particularly if making a last minute decision to travel, and, importantly, simple to understand.
Grand Central will also accept "Network" tickets, that is, tickets that allow passengers a choice of operator, and offer season tickets for regular passengers.