York train operator cancels plans for prestige new rail route

A Grand Central train at York Station. Photograph © HSTjohnny
18 Sep 2020 @ 7.17 am
| Transport

Plans for a new rail service, run by York-based Grand Central, that would have increased the number of direct services between Blackpool and London, has been scrapped.

Managing director Richard McClean decribed the decision as a ‘heartbreaking’ but said that they must concentrate on their core routes in Yorkshire and the North East.

The coronavirus pandemic and the drop in demand for rail travel means it is now not viable due to the economic uncertainty.

The firm already serves, York, Thirsk and Northallerton. They are an ‘open-access’ operator and provide competition for LNER on the route from North Yorkshire to London.

However unlike the main franchise holders they did not get support from the taxpayer earlier this year.

Lockdown cancellations

One of the first Grand Central HST services at York Station. Photograph: YorkMix

During lockdown all their trains to Kings Cross were cancelled and the service has only recently been getting back to normal.

They had planned to operate from Blackpool North to London Euston via Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes.

It’s a town that has not been well served by the main west coast operators Virgin and Avanti in the past.

Electric trains in the Grand Central colours had already been tested on the West Coast Main Line and staff had been recruited at a new base in Blackpool.

It would have been a prestige route to add to the Grand Central portfolio.

It also runs to Bradford Interchange and towns like Thirsk would not have a connection to London without it.

Grand Central is busy rebuilding the service from North Yorkshire to the capital after the covid lockdown.