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UK rail operating company, Grand Central, has announced that it will invest over £21 million into new trains set to operate on its new route from the North West to London, with the refurbishment of the first locomotive already complete, featuring its iconic livery. Beginning in late 2020, 24 coaches and five locomotives have been leased to run daily direct services between Blackpool North and London Euston.
Grand Central has leased four sets of MK4 coaches in six-car formation from Eversholt Rail, which will last until December 2026. The coaches will be maintained at Alstom’s Wembley depot and serviced overnight at Arriva North’s Blackpool depot. As of March 2020, three sets of MK4 coaches, secured under short-term lease from Eversholt Rail, will be used for driver training along the new North West to London Euston route.
Currently undergoing a £1.5 million refurbishment at Alstom in Widnes, the coaches will feature Grand Central livery and a full interior refresh which has designed with the comfort of leisure and business passengers in mind. Each train will include First Class carriages, free Wi-Fi throughout, a buffet, accessible toilets and baby changing facilities, as well as wheelchair and priority seating available.
Grand Central’s Fleet Director, Dave Hatfield, said: “We’re delighted to reveal our rolling stock for our new North West to London route. These trains have been chosen because of their proven track record and suitability for the service that we will be operating. It’s exciting times ahead and we’re thrilled to be bringing our operational expertise and industry-leading customer service to this new route. We can’t wait to welcome our first passengers on board to experience travelling with Grand Central and look forward to offering more choice for existing rail users and new opportunities for people to travel by train.”
Five Class 90 locomotives have also been hired from DB Cargo UK, four of which will be in service at any one time, with one locomotive spare for maintenance by DB Cargo UK at the Crewe Electric Maintenance Depot. They will be in operation along the North West to London Euston route, as well as other cleared routes between Blackpool, Preston, Nuneaton, Milton Keynes and London when diversions are needed.
Paul Batty, Fleet Project Manager for Grand Central, said: “We are incredibly proud of the work that has been done to bring our new fleet of rolling stock to fruition, starting with our first locomotive ready to begin driver training in a couple of weeks’ time. It’s taken a lot of planning and a considerable team effort to get to this stage and it’s fantastic that our customers will soon be able to see our refurbished Grand Central trains in operation.”
Steve Timothy, Stakeholder Director at Eversholt Rail, said: “Eversholt Rail are delighted that Grand Central has chosen our MK4 coaches for its new North West to London rail service. We look forward to working with Grand Central and extending our successful working relationship with the Arriva Group.”
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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