Arriva Acquires Open Access Operator Grand Central Railway

Arriva PLC, the German owned UK Subsidiary, has taken over Grand Central, the East Coast main line Open Access Operator making it the largest UK rail operator by far.

Grand Central Railway

Tom Clift, a former colleague of’s Phil Marsh, is the Managing Director of Grand Central Railway and said that “:Today opens a brand new chapter for Grand Central and for open access operations on Britain’s railways.”

“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.

“I will continue to lead Grand Central and will report directly into Bob Holland, MD of Arriva’s UK Trains division. Meanwhile Grand Central will remain a self-contained business with its own unique brand and identity. Our headquarters will continue to be based in York”.

Arriva Statement:

Arriva plc has confirmed it has acquired UK open access operator Grand Central Railway which runs passenger train services between Sunderland and London, and between Bradford/Halifax and London.

The acquisition, for an undisclosed amount, adds to Arriva’s UK Trains portfolio of the CrossCountry, Arriva Trains Wales and Chiltern Railways franchises, and concessions to operate the Tyne and Wear Metro and (as a joint venture) London Overground operations.

Grand Central is an open access operator, it does not receive subsidy from, or pay any premium to the Department for Transport. It operates four direct services between Sunderland and London Kings Cross daily, and three direct services between Bradford/Halifax and London Kings Cross. It provides approximately 700,000 passenger journeys a year.

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 alongside our three franchises and concessions operated on London Overground and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

“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 operation.

Phil Marsh comment:

This takeover will ensure that when the East Coast franchise is eventually let, Arriva will be able to put in an even stronger bid. They will have first-hand knowledge of how the poor performing route operates and what can be done to rectify matters. Currently, they only operate north of Doncaster with their Cross-Country services, but now will penetrate the London market as well.

Royal Train also Operated by German Company

The same German company also operates the Royal Train based at Wolverton under its DB Shenker operation. The operation of this train will be up for tendering in the next few months, understood to be for the first time ever.

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