Grand Central announced on 10th September that it will not now launch its planned North West route train service between Blackpool and London after COVID-19 rendered plans ‘unfeasible’.

Company executives at Grand Central and parent company Arriva said following months of exploring all options to launch the proposed expansion of services to the North West route as planned, it is not now viable due to the economic uncertainty and changed travel patterns caused by COVID-19.

Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central, said : “Because Grand Central operates under an Open Access business model, we receive no external financial help and we rely completely on what we generate in ticket sales. Despite months of work to adjust our costs, and monitor travel behaviour for signs of change it became more obvious to us that to invest in what is essentially a start-up enterprise in this climate was simply not feasible and therefore we reluctantly reached the very tough decision to cease the project permanently.

The expansion of Grand Central’s services to the North West Route would have linked communities in Blackpool, Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes directly to London Euston, The project had seen Grand Central establish offices in Blackpool and take on extra staff, including drivers. A period of consultation has begun between affected employees, rail unions and Grand Central executives.

Grand Central will continue to operate its services from Bradford and Sunderland to London Kings Cross on the East Coast route.