Two train operators in York and Selby to suspend all services till March

One of the first Grand Central HST services at York Station. Photograph: YorkMix
5 Jan 2021 @ 6.32 pm
| Transport

Train operators Grand Central and Hull Trains will suspend all their services for the next two months following the new national lockdown in England, from 9 January.

LNER will continue to run limited services for essential travel only.

Grand Central, based in York, said it will “hibernate” services on both its North East and West Riding routes from January 9, with a return to service currently planned for March 1.

A spokesman said: “It’s hugely disappointing for us to be starting 2021 by removing our trains from the communities they serve.

“However, even before Monday’s Government announcement of a total lockdown, the impact of tightening tier restrictions and ongoing engineering work on the East Coast Main Line had caused a major drop in passenger demand for January and February.

“As an Open Access operator, relying exclusively on income from ticket sales, it’s clear we would best serve the needs of our business and our staff and passengers, by taking a period of hibernation.

“We are currently planning to return on March 1 and our services will remain open for bookings to travel from that date.

“Meanwhile we will continually monitor the national situation and provide updates through our usual communication channels. We may return sooner if the lifting of restrictions allows.”

The spokesman said that following discussions with rail unions, workers and some support staff will be switched on to the Government furlough scheme over the next two months.

Photo – Hull Trains

Hull Trains will be doing the same and suspending its daily services from Selby to London.

Louise Cheeseman, managing director of Hull Trains said: “We are again in a position where it is the right decision for the business to temporarily suspend all our direct rail services to London.

The travel restrictions impact our income from ticket sales, so hibernating allows us to protect the business for longer so we can return as a sustainable rail operator once restrictions ease.”

Ticket sales are central to Hull Trains’ income stream and its position as an open access operator means it is not entitled to additional financial support from the government.

She added: “It’s another challenge we all face, but I am confident that the decision to temporarily suspend services is the right one to help safeguard the future of the business.

The majority of our staff will be furloughed until we are back up and running. At this time, we don’t have a planned return date, but we will be reviewing the situation as it evolves.”