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Grand Central reunites couple who live nearly 300 miles apart with special weekend away

A couple who live at other ends of the country from each other enjoyed a romantic weekend together in York after winning a special competition run by Grand Central Rail.

Michelle Stevens, 35, a veterinary nurse, who has lived in London for the past seven years, and her boyfriend Michael Underwood, 33, an ecological surveyor from Sunderland, were the lucky winners of a weekend stay at the Hilton, York.

The prize included travel on Grand Central’s services and brought Michelle up from London and Michael down from Sunderland to meet at York. It meant that the couple who live apart due to work commitments, could enjoy some quality time away with each other.

Michelle spoke about her surprise upon winning the Grand Central competition. She said: “When I found out that I’d won, my first thought was, this isn’t real. I’ve never won anything before! I was so excited to tell Michael and it really made both of our days. It came at a great time – we’d actually been looking into going to York for the day as we couldn’t afford to go for the full weekend – so winning the prize worked out perfectly for us.”

The couple got together six months ago after being introduced by a mutual friend. By chance they had both recently taken part in the same wild animal conservation volunteering project in South Africa but because of the timings, they didn’t actually meet until they were back in the UK.

Michelle continued: “We both have so much in common, it is hard being apart. We try to see each other every two to three weeks. As we both work full time, we have to plan ahead, arrange the place to meet up and then we book our train tickets.

“We both felt like our weekend away in York allowed us to spend some quality time together.”

During their stay in York, the couple had the opportunity to take in the sights and fascinating history and culture of the city.

Michelle continued: “We had a great time. It was such a special treat to stay in the Hilton and York really is a beautiful city at any time of year.

“We were lucky that the weather stayed dry all weekend, even though it was a bit chilly! We found some lovely antique shops in York and enjoyed exploring the history and culture of the city and seeing the stunning architecture. One of the highlights of the weekend was visiting The Shambles, an old street in York packed with cafes, restaurants and shops.

“It was so exciting going to meet each other and great to travel with Grand Central. The staff on board were so attentive to us and really looked after us. We’re very grateful to Grand Central for the opportunity and so happy we won this amazing competition.”

Grand Central, part of the Arriva group, is an established train operator which provides direct rail connections between towns and cities in Yorkshire and the North East of England and London.

The company recently celebrated being ranked the highest rated for customer satisfaction amongst British leisure and commuter travellers, according to consumer champion Which? Grand Central also took top honours for passenger satisfaction in the National Rail Passenger Survey for autumn 2017.

Richard McClean, Managing Director at Grand Central, said: “We’re delighted Michelle and Michael enjoyed their weekend away together in York. It’s lovely that we’ve been able to help them make some very special memories together.

“Great things happen when people move and there’s nothing we enjoy more than putting smiles on people’s faces and bringing people together, whether that’s to enjoy a special trip away or the chance to meet up with their loved ones or friends.

“York is a great city with wonderful history, fascinating museums and a vibrant café culture. It is so easy to get there by train, whether you’re travelling from the North East like Michael or up from London King’s Cross as Michelle was.”

To find out more about Grand Central, please visit or follow the railway company on Twitter @GC_Rail, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Notes to editors:

Grand Central Railway Company Limited is part of the Arriva group, one of the leading providers of passenger transport in Europe. Arriva employs more than 60,000 people and delivers over 2 billion passenger journeys across 14 European countries each year.
Grand Central is an established train operator which provides direct rail connections from towns and cities in Yorkshire and the North East England with London.

Established in 2007, Grand Central celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017. Customer satisfaction levels are consistently high and the rail company has was named Britain’s best value rail operator for the 5th year in a row.

Grand Central operates West Riding Services between Bradford Interchange, Low Moor, Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield Kirkgate, Pontefract Monkhill, Doncaster and London King’s Cross. The rail operator also operates North East services between Sunderland, Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe, Northallerton, Thirsk, York and London King’s Cross.

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