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UK-based train operator Grand Central has announced that it will extend its current suspension of train services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout June 2020, with company bosses continuing to monitor government advice on social distancing and planning the return of its train services later in the summer.
As UK rail passengers return under a new limited timetable and social distancing rules following an ease in lockdown restrictions by the government, Grand Central’s Managing Director has emphasised that the company will continue to shape its return post-COVID-19, while monitoring passenger demand elsewhere on the rail network throughout June 2020.
Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central, said: “Being an Open Access train operator means, unlike franchised operators, we must sell enough tickets to cover our operating costs. The safety of our staff and passengers is essential, but social distancing rules mean we cannot yet welcome the number of customers needed to run the service sustainably.”
He added: “I think, over the coming month, we’ll get a really informative picture of passenger attitude, government intentions and how the industry is dealing with social distancing. But, for now, the most sensible course of action for us is to monitor all this and use the time to plan our return.”
The majority of Grand Central staff have been told that they will continue to be supported under the government’s furlough scheme, while a skeleton team continues to finalise plans for a return to service with its parent company, Arriva.
Grand Central has been a rail industry success story since it was founded in 2007, initially running services between Sunderland and London King’s Cross Station. During 2020, the company celebrates the tenth anniversary of its services between Bradford and London.
Richard continued: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages of support we are getting from our passengers. We recently conducted a survey of attitudes amongst our customers and social media followers. We enjoyed a huge response and it was heartening to see how many people and communities rely on us and can’t wait to be back on board.”
He went on: “It also provided us with a really useful insight into what people expect from us in terms of social distancing, ticketing and how we deliver service on board. We will continue to check in with our customers in this way to ensure the timing of our return and the service we offer meets their needs.”
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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