Grand Central reveal £7.8m boost to services during Hartlepool event

RAIL chiefs have revealed plans for a £7.8m investment in areas including Hartlepool.

Bosses from Grand Central met at the Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience to explain their plans for a 12-year programme of improvements on their services which run from the North-East and Yorkshire to London.

PLANNING TO INVEST: Grand Central Rail chief operating officer Sean English

PLANNING TO INVEST: Grand Central Rail chief operating officer Sean English

It will include:

l The entire train fleet being “brought up to a new high standard”, with leather seats in first class and improvements across the standard-class carriages, including toilets and vestibules

l There will also be LED lighting on board trains which will improve the reliability of power sockets for charging mobile phones and laptops

l The usability and speed of the Wi-Fi connection on trains will be improved

l Grand Central Rail has signed a lease with Angel Trains for a further five Class-180 trains. They will be seen on the rails from 2017

l The company has also pledged capital investment to improve passenger facilities at stations on its route.

Richard McClean, managing director of Grand Central Rail, said: “We’ve listened to our passengers and the investments we’re making will improve the reliability of services as well as the comfort and reliability of our on-board facilities.

“We’re starting our investments early to get a head start on improvements for passengers, with a refurbishment to our current fleet due to begin in early 2015.”

Grand Central chiefs came to the Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience to hold the first in a series of meetings with customers and passengers. Bosses say they want to make sure their multi-million pound investment is in the areas where the public most wants it.

Chief operating officer Sean English said: “We have got some plans but we need to make sure that they are the right plans. This engagement with stakeholders is critical to us.

“We have got some money to use and we have to make sure it is in appropriate areas.”

Mr English said investment in Hartlepool could be on anything from bringing back the currently unused platform to further improving the existing the facilities at the town’s station.

He added: “Hartlepool has been blessed with investment over the years and we have got a cracking little station here.

“If we can build on that, it will be because it is the right thing to do.”

Further stakeholder meetings are planned at towns along the route that Grand Central serves, with Sunderland’s meeting to be held at the end of this month.

Mr McClean added: “‘We’ll invest to increase car parking capacity and passenger facilities, as well as working with public transport providers to improve the journeys to and from stations where we can, making it easier for passengers to get to and from the train.

“The communities along our routes are at the heart of our business and we have therefore ensured that our investment goes beyond our fleet and right out into those communities for the benefit of local passengers.”