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Statement from our director on return to service
Following yesterday’s Government announcement on the timeline for the easing of current national lockdown restrictions, Grand Central (GC) has decided to extend its current period of hibernation.
In light of the roadmap set out by the Prime Minister, and following discussions with employees and trades union representatives, it’s clear it would not be appropriate to resume services before restrictions on travel are eased on March 29. However, should circumstances allow us to bring our trains back to you earlier, we will do so.
I’m encouraged by recent reductions in the national ‘R’ rate and a drop in COVID-related hospitalisations. This, along with the ongoing vaccination programme, leaves me hopeful that when we return to service it will be permanent, albeit cautious and incremental. Grand Central’s Open Access business model means, unlike other train operators, we rely exclusively on income from ticket sales – an essential factor in our business decisions.
I understand our passengers may have questions over existing seat reservations, particularly between March 1 and 26 and I can confirm that all GC tickets reserved for these dates are transferable, free of charge, to other dates. We are also working with fellow train operators on transferring your GC reservation to one of their services. I’m also pleased to confirm that you can still book seats with GC for travel dates beyond March 27.
In terms of Grand Central’s employees, I can confirm we will continue to make use of the Government’s furlough scheme, including flexible furlough, to support our return to service. This allows us to closely monitor Government easing of restrictions and passenger demand - all major factors in our return. I would like to extend my, and my fellow GC executives', gratitude for the patience, understanding and professionalism of our employees throughout what has been a very difficult year.
Finally, a huge thank you to our customers, who continue to show their support and loyalty to GC on a near-daily basis. For now I ask you all to stay safe, follow official advice and we will welcome you on board again soon.
Richard McClean, Grand Central Managing Director