26 August 2011
Finally, got to try out a Grand Central service. This is one of the ‘open access’ operators running services between West Yorkshire and the North East and London. The 10.48 from Kings Cross to Bradford Interchange was, in school holiday time, predictably quiet. Only five people in my carriage, but what a great service. The staff seem to really care and are really engaged. A cheerful good morning on the tannoy – no threats about having the wrong sort of tickets. You can buy tickets on board. All the crew, including the driver introduced. Nice and clean train, good layout with lots of tables. Three minutes late leaving but soon hurtling along with the ride a bit bumpy. Fast to Doncaster and then the service wanders off on a tour of West Yorkshire – only for those whom have a bit of time to spare. The only thing I could fault was one loo had no soap and another no water. The overall verdict? Very good as our National Passenger Survey results attest. Should there be more open access operators like this? This issue will no doubt come up in industry debates, but this one feels very passenger focused. Whether it makes overall sense to use up valuable space on the tracks for such a lightly used service is another matter but one thing is sure – the pressure to have direct trains to London will not go away.