Train Review – Bath to Newcastle (Return)Back to Forum
Grand Central are great.
Their fares are generally amazing value.
Their 07:49hrs service from London to York is classed as Off Peak.
That has a huge impact on fares.
So, where East Coast charge £124.50 (£177.50 First) around that time, Grand Central charge £51.50 (£77.20 First)
So, where East Coast charge £249 (£355 First) around that time, Grand Central charge £87.50 (£123.60 First)
I would say Grand Central are a bit above easyJet.
For those savings, you can get a great breakfast at Kings Cross 🙂
I find the seats on their trains very comfortable and if you can work with their four / five services a day you are on to a winner.
They also do services from Kings Cross up to Bradford via Wakefield.
Oh, and East Coast HATE them.11 Apr 2013
I enjoyed reading your reports. Grand Central, as you may know, is an ‘open access’ operator. I covered these firms for the Platform column a few months ago.
Open access operators score highly in passenger surveys.11 Apr 2013
I never read your Open Access article but I was aware of it. Which issue was it in?
Do you know if BT are planning to set up a train review section?
Result last night was disappointing but we gave it our best shot!12 Apr 2013
I have used GC a couple of times KX-Sunderland. I love the advertising and the rather ‘retro’ look and feel that the whole operation has.
Unfortunately I was disappointed in the service and the quality. That it was relatively inexpensive and punctual is the best I can say.
When I boarded at KX I asked about an upgrade and was told by a GC staff member on the platform that the train was ‘very full’ in Andrew Mitchell (pleb) class, and that an upgrade would only be ‘a few pounds’. So I sat in First and when the collector came round she re-assessed my fare for the upgrade and it was about £30, which is more than ‘a few’ pounds.
To add insult to injury, second class was by no means full, so I really had no need to upgrade. The food offering was limited and didn’t look good, so I declined.
There was a strong smell of diesel, I was in the leading coach right behind the engine unit and when I commented on it a staff member said she was ‘not aware of it’ and nobody else had said anything. The man sitting across the aisle from me then said he’d noticed it too and found it quite unpleasant, and she just walked off.
A great pity as this is certainly a service I would use and support on trips to the NE and Scotland as changing in Sunderland is an easy option.12 Apr 2013
I’ll pass on your request to the powers that be.
Here’s the link to the Platform piece I wrote on open access last December.
Platform is a new feature for BT, it is solely concerned with rail (both domestic and international) and it appears in every issue.
I take your point about the rolling stock with GC uses. As I explained in Platform (see above link) the open access operators use ‘hand me down rolling stock’ which, so far, is diesel rather than electric. Read the piece and you’ll understand why this is the case.12 Apr 2013
NTarrant – 11/04/2013 17:09 GMT
Good review Bath-VIP and I would whole heartedly support that should also be a rail review section.
Agreed! As rail travel is now a viable alternative to flying, and this is a ‘Business Traveller” forum there should be a section for training.
AOTG.12 Apr 2013
Thanks for the review, interesting stuff! I’ve never considered changing from East Coast at York and onto Grand Central but you’ve now got me wondering if I am missing a trick.
I’m East Coasting doon to London later this month and again in April. Will watch out for service/food quality etc when I’m on-board.
AOTG.12 Apr 2013
Very interesting article regarding open access operators. I have given my thoughts on these in another thread but it is disappointing that the government is not encouraging more of these.
I am now on my Cross-Country service (coming into Derby) and it occurred to me earlier that the Newcastle to York stretch must have the greatest potential for competition of any line in the UK. if you check on trainline, it shows 5 trains an hour with 2 by East Coast, 2 by Cross Country and 1 by TransPennine Express. Admittedly, the journey is only an hour but does anyone who travels that stretch feel that the 3 companies are competing with each other or have they settled into a comfortable triopoly?12 Apr 2013
Hi all – thanks for your posts.
We’ve created a new forum section entitled “Rail reviews”, where reviews can be left in one place for ease of browsing – this is at:
I think this is probably the best we can do at present – to create a proper review system (similar to that on our sister website http://www.seatplans.com) would take a fair bit of time and resources, but we’ll bear it in mind. We don’t after all have a user review system for hotels, although plenty of reviews are left as forum threads in the Hotels section of the forum.
Hope that helps!12 Apr 2013
Thank you for your quick response in creating this section. I think this is a good idea to begin with and hopefully you will be able to create a dedicated website later on.
Could I ask you please to move this thread over to the new section?12 Apr 2013
Hi Bath……Your York to Newcastle point is interesting and comes back to the discussion about competition…..
In reality I think most people who have the relevant ticket will just jump onto the first train that comes along because there isn’t much of a difference on such a short leg…..
However I would always wait for an East Coast service if I was continuing up the road to the Waverly…
East Coast trains get track priority, so if you are on a, on time X country train heading into Newcastle, you will be held back to allow a delayed East Coast train through in front !
When I travelled between Derby and Scotland I would also choose to change at York onto an East Coast train because the direct X Country experience was so poor….
Having said that, during the festival it was pretty much pot luck what you got….£257 to stand outside a toilet for over 4 hours……..Am in Calcutta ?
I will pass on the GC tip to my pal who stays in Newcastle (Gateshead)….book from Sunderland for cheaper tickets!12 Apr 2013
Interesting report, thanks BathVIP.
I’ve often wondered what Grand Central services are like, I think I’ll stick to East Coast even though it costs a little more.12 Apr 2013
There is competition between York and Newcastle but it’s based on journey times and prices.
Of course, if you buy a normal flexible ticket then the operators may all change roughly the same (I believe that under the ticket clearing house system, the revenue for normal or full price tickets is split amongst the TOCs) so the price difference per TOC – which can be 50 per cent or more – can be achieved by booking Advance tickets.
See this month’s Platform where I write about the advantages of buying Advance tickets:12 Apr 2013
Fares on that section are more than likely set by East Coast. The regulated fares are charged by all the TOC’s, currently £37.00 single. If you buy that and travel on East Coast a portion goes to XC and a portion goes to FTP. If you travel on XC, they still get the same portion. It is worked out on the number of journeys operated as a rough guide.
Golden rules, whilst you can buy any TOC’s tickets on any other TOC’s website, you do get a better deal usually wit the TOC you are travelling on. I have found that the advance tickets on East Midlands trains are always £1 or £2 cheaper on EMT website than any other.
Avoid the Trainline as they charge you a card fee, always use TOC sites.12 Apr 2013