Arriva buys open access firm Grand Central

Arriva has bought Grand Central, the open access rail operator that runs trains from London to north east England and West Yorkshire.

The sale, for an undisclosed sum, will leave Grand Central?s brand and services in place.

Grand Central has specialised in serving towns that otherwise have no direct rail link to London. It carries some 700,000 passengers a year.

There are four services day to and from London and Sunderland via York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Eaglescliffe and Hartlepool, and three to and from London and Bradford via Doncaster, Pontefract, Wakefield, Brighouse and Halifax.

Grand Central managing director Tom Clift, who will remain in office, said: ?The decision by Arriva, one of Europe?s largest transport undertakings, to acquire Grand Central is a huge vote of confidence in all our staff who have worked so hard over the last four years to deliver the very highest standards of customer service to the growing numbers of passengers using our routes.?

Bob Holland, Arriva UK Trains managing director, said: ?We firmly believe open access will play a valuable part of a balanced portfolio for our UK Trains division.

?Bringing Grand Central on board means we have a live open access operation up and running, one which is popular with customers and which we believe we can develop to become a key commercial part of our UK rail operations.?

This suggests that Arriva wants to become more involved in open access services. The concept was intended to encourage independent operators onto the railway network, but has had few takers.

Companies that run trains under it are outside the franchise system and neither receive Government subsidy nor pay money back to the Department for Transport.

The first open access operator was Hull Trains, now owned by the transport group First, while Wrexham and Shropshire closed last January.

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