New train firm Grand Central (see Online news, August 16) has had to postpone the launch date of its service linking London with the northeast.
Grand Central had hoped to begin its three times a day service from Kings Cross to Sunderland on December 10. But it has been unable to obtain rolling stock in time to meet this deadline.According to the firm's MD Ian Yeowart, Grand Central now hopes to launch on May 20 next year.
It will operate the service with refurbished 125 mph diesel trains (£5 million is being spent on bringing the trains up to scratch) until new rolling stock can be acquired in a few years' time.
Grand Central plans to run up to three times a day from Kings Cross calling at York then continuing to Sunderland with calls at Thirsk, Northallerton, Eaglescliffe and Hartlepool. With the exception of York, these cities are not well served by incumbent train firm GNER.
The city of York is expected to be one of the most popular destinations for business and leisure travellers alike. Besides being a main rail hub in its own right, York has no convenient airport or motorway links.
Artist's impression of a Grand Central first class carriage
Grand Central says its trains will depart Kings Cross at 0804, 1127 and 1650 with the inbound services from Sunderland departing at 0642, 1230 and 1730. Overall journey time averages 3 hours 30 minutes.
It will offer first and standard class seating and promises a simpler range of fares than is offered by GNER. At busy times Grand Central promises to provide a 50 per cent refund to passengers who cannot find a seat on one of its services.
For more information go to grandcentralrail.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter