Published at 12:00 on Tuesday 13th August 2013
Tags: ORR, Track Access, Grand Central, Open Access

Class 43 powercar No. 43468 leads a London-bound Grand Central service into Thirsk on 23rd May. Richard Tuplin

Grand Central has outlined proposals for new investments to deliver further improvements to services as it seeks to extend its track access contract.

As an open-access train operator, Grand Central operates under a contract for a specific period, which has to be approved by the Office of Rail Regulation and currently expires in 2016. A 28-day consultation, which ends on 2nd September. seeks views from various stakeholders on the extension of Grand Central’s current Track Access Contract, through until 2026.

Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central said: “Over the next few years, we plan to make very significant investments in our train fleet and supporting stations and infrastructure. We are applying to extend our current Track Access Contract for ten years as we want the opportunity to grow and improve our service for Grand Central’s passengers and communities.”

Grand Central is proposing to invest in its fleet of trains, including the option to move to a uniform fleet of Class 180 DMUs, potentially from 2016/2017, suggesting that discussions may be ongoing with regards to the transfer of the First Great Western-operated Class 180s following the introduction of the new Intercity Express fleet. Grand Central hopes to have a final decision on its access agreement from the Office of Rail Regulation by the end of the year, having started the proceedings early with a view to entering into lease agreeements for its future fleet.

Elsewhere, the company is looking at reinstating the disused platform at Hartlepool to provide better flexibility and capacity, subject to agreement with Network Rail and local stakeholders.

Network Rail are running the consultation on Grand Central's behalf, giving other train operating companies, passenger transport executives and groups such as Passenger Focus the opportunity to comment. The details are available online at Network Rail website.

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