Grand Central Rail is an independent open-access operator and a subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains, part of the Arriva Group, which is owned by Deutsche Bahn
The company 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. In August 2014, Grand Central was granted an extension of its operating rights until December 2026.
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.
In May 2018 Grand Central commenced 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 ten years.
Grand Central Rail introduced e-ticketing towards the end of 2017, allowing customers to buy tickets online and display them on their mobile or tablet device. Instead of queuing at stations or waiting for tickets to be delivered, customers can now pay for their fare online. Available on desktop and mobile devices, tickets stay available until ten minutes before departure and after purchasing customers receive an email with a downloadable PDF that features a barcode scanned by crew and ticket gates.
Richard McClean, managing director of Grand Central Rail, said: ‘We are always striving to improve our customer experience and we listen to our passengers. Not only is [e-ticketing] environmentally friendly, but it offers our passengers a fast and efficient way of storing their ticket.’
The six Class 43 (HST) trains that Grand Central operates were withdrawn at the end of 2017. The TOC had leased five more Class 180 units cascaded from Angel Trains to replace its HST trains and increase its overall fleet size.