East Coast Main Line open access operators are facing contrasting futures, with Grand Central announcing plans for a return but still no restart date for Hull Trains.
Both companies made the decision to suspend operations at the end of March, following the start of lockdown.
Grand Central and Hull Trains both rely on passenger revenue for funding. Neither qualified for Government funding through Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs), although they were able to use the furlough scheme to protect jobs.
GC (owned by Arriva) announced on June 30 that following a four-month “period of hibernation”, it would start running trains from July 26. Initially, these will be two daily return trains between Bradford Interchange and London King’s Cross, and three daily return trips between Sunderland and King’s Cross.
However, HT Managing Director Louise Cheeseman told RAIL that there was still no date for its services to resume. Owned by FirstGroup, HT has been actively looking for ways to restart services - including the possibility of working with franchised operators to carry passengers unable to travel on other services, due to social distancing measures affecting on-board capacity (RAIL 907).
- For the FULL story, read RAIL 909, published on July 15, and available digitally from July 11.
- To read more about the Hull Trains' thinking regarding a return to service, read RAIL 907, available now.