Another Train Company …

This man is Ian Yeowart, founder of the Grand Cental Railway comoany, an early cntender toi run open access serviuce on the UK’ss nationak rail network. Cirrently Grand |Central runs trains from Kings Cross to Sunderland and from Kings Cross to Btadford.

At various times the holders of the East Coast maun line franchise have operateed m and norminal Monday to Friday oine train each way to Bradford via Leeds, neither Bradfor nor Sunderland has enjoyed a propoer service to London for many a long year.

The current Grand Centall frequencies are hardly lavish but they are the brst of any recent offering.

Four to Bradford, five to Sunderland Monday to Friday …

… with similar at weekends.

The gestation period for Grand Central os ling and complex, far to intricate for a sumple minded blogger like fbb. So hr will limite himself to and slightly expirgate version of that provided by the sainted WEikipedia. Todays version is very much the secind attenot at launching Grand Central – the first go being a failure! But young Ian stuck at it!
On 18 December 2007, operations commenced between Sunderland and London King’s Cross. While awaiting delivery of all of the rolling stock, Grand Central initially operated only one Sunderland and King’s Cross and one York and King’s Cross service in each direction. During March 2008, the full timetable was introduced. Mechanical problems with the InterCity 125 fleet …
… led to services being regularly cancelled.

During March 2008, Grand Central applied to the ORR to operate three daily services from Bradford Interchange to London King’s Cross. In January 2009, it was granted access rights for three daily Bradford Interchange to King’s Cross services and a fourth Sunderland to London King’s Cross service.

On 23 May 2010, Grand Central services between Bradford Interchange and King’s Cross began. It had been hoped that the service would start in December 2009, but difficulties in securing rolling stock caused delay.

The chosen stock (whatever the company cold get!) for Bradford was from th Adelante collection.

HSTs were not route-approved for Grand Cental’s wiggle into Bradford Interchage which leds to at least oine iccasion when an HST was rosetered and the poot passengers were tyrfed out st Wakefield Kirkgate to continue thi merry way by bus! The raukway rumour machine does not reveal whether th allocation of an HST was due to stick shortahe or a management bludner!

The servce was innivative in many ways. Initially a more attrcativ gares system was apllied, but, later, national fare scale normality retutrned. The pictire of Marylin Moinroe at the real Grand Inion Station …

…adorned the end panels of some of the carruages, but beither he ghost not a paid lookalike ever appeared – shame! What alo never apeared was the full restaurant servive as originallt promised in the pre-service hype.

One intriguing offer …

Was boadr gane boards for the bired. Boxes of approporiate parpherbalia were available from the buffet. fbb did not travel that oftenm but never saw anyone partucuoating!

Dome of the stations used left a lot to be dsuired. The stoop at Egglecliffe for Middlesbrough, although well placed geographically, was an ustaffed dump …

… with a hut. Things are a little better nowadays – but not much! At least it now has a better hut!


In November 2011, Grand Central was bought out by Arriva UK Trains for an undisclosed amount.[57][58][59] At the time of the takeover, Grand Central had 123 employees, a turnover of £18.9 million and debts of £44 million.

fbb is no expert on Corporate Finance – but understands that “turnover” os not a lot of use unless it brings profits. His guess is that Great Central was “up against it” with insufficient earnings to serviced big debt. Arriva, presumably, saw s brighter finiancial future, although not that good as Deutsche Bahn started on a sell off misssioin failrly soon after purchase.

And Another New Route …

In the lead-up to the takeover by Arriva, Mt Y had been working hard on a direct service from Blackpool to London Euston, simikar in style to the two above. He had, eventually, got his “access rights”; somr electric locos had been booked from freight ooerator Deutsche Bahn (as above) and rakes of yellow-stripe coaches were due to whizz up and down the main line to Euston under an itensive driver training scheme.

Train times were published …

… with five return trips Monday to Satyrday and four on Sunday. There was even a seating plan for those refurbished mark 4 coaches.

Then Arriva abruptly pulled the plug citing unviability as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Yeah, right! 

More likely, the Arriva bean counters had realised how tricky things were deep down with the existing trains to Bradford and Sunderland and thus decided train operating was not much fun financially and would not be much fun in the foreseeable future – even when Covid was crushed.

And Another Train Company …

Having given up his Grand Cntral train set, Ian Yeowart was nothing if not determined. After a lengthy struggle he was awared access rights to run from Carmarthen to London Paddington. His new company, maintaining the historic USA theme, is known as Grand Union (without Marilyn this time).

The route is shown below:-

and continued.

The stop at Severn Tunnel Junction is even less attractive than Egglescliffe …

… but with twice as many platforms. Oh yes? Cardiff Parkway station does not exist – yet. 

So when will the Grand Union Carmarthen seervuce start?

Well, the boss has a minor problem. He ain’t got no trains! 

New trains are very expensive and 800 class bi-modes are hyper expensive. All the HSTs have gone or are going and there are no spare Adelantes left.


And Another New Route …

Mr Yeowart, whilst searching for Carmarthen trains down the back of the rail supply industry sofa has now won some open access “slots” between Stirling and Euston. He’s a bit older now …

… but still as determined as ever to get these services running. Here is the Stirling route.

/.. continuing south to London.

This rime he rckons that he has found some spare trains lying around (technical term, “off lease”) There are some Meridians from East Midland Trains …

… and class 221 Super Voyagers (effectively the same type of train).

Ian does not tell us whether they are ex CrossCountry or ex Virgin 221s but rolling stock experts will know.
What he does tell us is that they will be reconfigured (expensively???) to offer 2 + 1  seating for standard class. Presumably as reliable an offer as that for full catering on trains to Sunderland.
We are also told that lease of Voyager/Meridian units will be a stop-gap measure until he can get some proper (new?) trains.
Hope his piggy bank is full to overflowing?
But, as they say, who would want to run a railway company?
 Next Variety blog : Sunday 17th March 

Generated by Feedzy