OPEN access operators Grand Central and Hull Trains are withdrawing their services in response to the new lockdown in England.
Grand Central says it plans to ‘hibernate’ services to Sunderland and Bradford from 9 January until at least 1 March. Hull Trains will also withdraw all its services from 9 January but has not quoted a possible return date.
Grand Central 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.’
Hull Trains managing director Louise Cheeseman 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 significantly, so hibernating allows us to protect the business for longer so we can return as a sustainable rail operator once restrictions ease.
‘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.’
Both operators withdrew their services in response to the lockdowns last year from March and again in November.