Grand Central applies to run six train services a day from Sunderland and Hartlepool to London

A Grand Central train
A Grand Central train
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Rail operator Grand Central is applying to increase its services from Sunderland and Hartlepool to London.

The company reconnected Sunderland's direct rail service to the capital in 2007, also serving other stations on the North East coast including Hartlepool.

Now the firm is applying to up its number of return services on the route from five to six between Sunderland and London.

Grand Central, now part of the Arriva Group, has begun consultation with other train companies and the infrastructure operator Network Rail on its plans, which include increasing services on its West Riding routes in Yorkshire.

Once that is complete, the application for the extra services will be submitted to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for consideration.

Richard McClean, managing director of Grand Central, said: “We believe that expanding our operations will benefit both our existing and potential new passengers, as well as grow existing markets.

“As well as bringing additional benefits to our customers, we see these additional services as continuing the economic growth we have supported in communities along our routes by enabling social mobility and enabling communities to thrive.

“The proposed services are essential to encouraging competition in the rail market and to connecting communities and businesses. By offering low fares and benefits which are valued by our customers such as free WiFi and plenty of legroom, we aim to make train travel an attractive and affordable option.

“We’re pleased to present these growth proposals and we hope the ORR and the wider rail industry share our vision for sustainable investment in the long term.”

The additional train services in the North East and Yorkshire will provide an extra 1,600 daily seats in total to or from the capital, which Grand Central says is in response to demand from its customers for more services for their local communities.

The additional services will be operated by Grand Central’s Adelante fleet, which is undergoing a refurbishment programme.

Grand Central was ranked No. 1 in UK for overall journey satisfaction in January, and was also rated best value long distance train operator for the sixth year running in the National Rail Passenger Survey.

The train operator was also the highest rated for customer satisfaction among British leisure and commuter travellers, according to research published by consumer champion Which? in January.