£7.8m investments are just the ticket
- Grand Central plans substantial capital investments
- Announcement follows its extended track access agreement, which will see its trains operating until 2026
Grand Central Rail has today revealed planned £7.8m worth of investments to improve the reliability, capacity and comfort of its services over the next 12 years.
Following the extension of its operating licence, which gives the company the permission to run trains between London, the North East and Yorkshire until 2026, Grand Central will invest significantly in the comfort and reliability of its fleet of trains as well as passenger facilities at stations.
Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central Rail, said: “We’ve listened to our passengers and the investments we’re making will improve the reliability of services as well as the comfort and reliability of our on-board facilities. We’re starting our investments early to get a head start on improvements for passengers, with a refurbishment to our current fleet due to begin in early 2015. Our entire fleet will be brought up to a new high standard, with leather seats in First Class and improvements across the Standard class carriages, toilets and vestibules.
“We’ll also switch to using LED lighting on board which, as well as being better for the environment, will improve the reliability of power sockets for charging mobile phones and laptops. Our on-board Wi-Fi will also remain free for all passengers in both Standard and First Class and we’re already making improvements to the usability and speed of the Wi-Fi connection.”
Grand Central Rail has signed a lease with Angel Trains for a further five Class 180 trains which, along with the company’s existing five Class 180 services will be seen on the rails from 2017. Having two additional trains in the fleet – a 25% increase on current arrangements - will allow Grand Central Rail to be more robust and flexible in terms of train maintenance and capacity. Following a refurbishment of the fleet, Grand Central will work with Network Rail with the aim of increasing the number of seats available on its busiest services. ..
Grand Central Rail has also pledged capital investment to improve passenger facilities at stations on its route.
Richard McClean said: “We want to build on our previous station investments, including the rescue of Wakefield Kirkgate station and increasing the capacity at Northallerton Station car park, by working with Network Rail, local authorities and station facility owners to make further improvements at the stations we serve.
‘We’ll invest to increase car parking capacity and passenger facilities, as well as working with public transport providers to improve the journeys to and from stations where we can, making it easier for passengers to get to and from the train. The communities along our routes are at the heart of our business and we have therefore ensured that our investment goes beyond our fleet and right out into those communities for the benefit of local passengers.”
Grand Central Rail’s award-winning Station Ambassador programme will also be rolled out to additional stations in Yorkshire.
Sean English, Chief Operating Officer at Grand Central Rail, said: “Grand Central Station Ambassadors work on Sundays, when stations are traditionally unstaffed and the majority of rail engineering work takes place. Currently, Station Ambassadors at Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe and Brighouse Stations answer passenger queries and provide a friendly welcome to the town for visitors, as well as improving operational safety and efficiency at the station.
“We’re delighted to be introducing Ambassadors to Mirfield Station during 2015 and hope to include Thirsk Station in the near future.”
The Office of Rail Regulation agreed a ten-year licence extension to Grand Central’s original operating agreement in august 2014, giving the company the right to run trains between the North East, West Yorkshire and London until 2026.
Notes to editors
1. Grand Central Railway Company Limited operates West Riding services between Bradford Interchange, Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Pontefract Monkhill, Wakefield Kirkgate, Doncaster and London King’s Cross and North East services between Sunderland, Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe, Northallerton, Thirsk, York and London Kings Cross.
2. Investment in Fleet.
- We have signed a lease with Angel Trains for five Class 180 trains (from 2017). This will give Grand Central Rail a fleet of 10 Class 180 trains – an increase of two on the eight trains currently in the Fleet. This will increase capacity by 25% overall and gives the company the flexibility to double the capacity on busiest services by joining two trains together to run longer trains, subject to industry approvals.
- Having a common Fleet made up Class 180’s will give Grand Central Rail the opportunity to enter a world-class maintenance programme with Alstom, improving reliability of air con, availability of parts and improved flexibility when it comes to maintenance, leading to less down time and pressure on the fleet.
3. Station investments
- Over the next twelve years, Grand Central Rail will work closely with station facility owners to make improvements for passengers at the stations we call at.