Open access operator Grand Central resumed services on Sunday July 26.
It will be a phased return to normal schedules which had been suspended for almost four months.
Good morning passengers of Sunderland, Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe, Northallerton, Thirsk, York, Bradford Interchange, Low Moor, Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield Kirkgate, Doncaster and @NetworkRailKGX.
Our trains are back!
As usual, we're here for your tweets until 22:00. pic.twitter.com/OyEXfnLYCI
— Grand Central Rail (@GC_Rail) July 26, 2020
Grand Central operates daily services over the East Coast Mainline (ECML) to London Kings Cross from West Yorkshire and the Northeast.
Says MD Richard McClean, “We always planned this to be a measured and sensible return to service.”
“We know rail travel has changed a lot since we last welcomed passengers on board in April, but the demand is slowly returning.”
Why did Grand Central, unlike rival LNER, suspend services?
Because Grand Central is an open access train firm. It must operate services at its own risk (as it pays the government no franchise fees).
All train operating companies (TOCs) have been funded by the government during Covid-19 and there is no indication when this costly support will end.
The same applies to fellow open access Hull Trains which operates services linking East Yorkshire with London Kings Cross.
Hull Trains suspended services in March at very short notice. There is no indication as to when it will restart.
We are sorry to announce that Hull Trains is temporarily suspending all train services as a result of the current travel restrictions and low passenger numbers.
We will not be running any services on Monday 30 March 2020 until further notice. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/gnaGwGepg6
— Hull Trains (@Hull_Trains) March 29, 2020
Why? Rail expert Steve White said, “They [Hull Trains] don’t have the revenue protection that franchised operators [TOCs] do and the finances for each operator will be different.”
What Mr White means is that Hull Trains is owned by First Group and the latter faces financial difficulties.