Arriva takes over Grand Central

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LOSS-making Grand Central has been taken over by Arriva - one of the largest transport companies in Europe.

The development is seen as a positive move to strengthen the business and build on its operations.

Grand Central delivered disappointing results with a £8.4 million loss to the end of March 2011.

It runs three direct services daily between Calderdale and London Kings Cross and four from Sunderland.

As an open access operator it receives no Government funding and Arriva have plans for it to be a key commercial part of its UK rail operations.

Arriva UK Trains managing director Bob Holland said: “We believe open access will play a valuable part of a balanced portfolio for our UK Trains division.

“Bringing Grand Central on board means we have a live open access operation up and running, and which we believe we can develop.”

Mr Holland has said in the longer-term he envisaged a move away from franchise operations on commercial corridors which are the West and East Coast main lines in particular.

Grand Central managing director Tom Clift said GC would remain a self-contained business and the deal recognised the work done over the last four years on building up a growing number of passengers on its routes.

“The decision by Arriva to acquire Grand Central is a huge vote of confidence,” he said.

Arriva also owns Alliance Rail which is a development arm of the business working to introduce more direct trains to London from Calderdale along the West Coast main line.

Alliance is run by Ian Yeowart, formerly of Grand Central, and he said it was business as usual, and any extra trains would attract new customers.

“Arriva must have decided Grand Central is a business it can develop and that is good news,” said Mr Yeowart.