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New rail service rolls out today

Date 18 Dec 2007

Grand Central's long-awaited passenger services from Sunderland to London Kings Cross began today. The first direct passenger train from Wearside to London for almost 20 years left Sunderland before 7am this morning, scheduled to reach Kings Cross by 10.30 (ish).

Until the delivery of its remaining fleet of passenger vehicles, Grand Central will run an interim weekday timetable. The operator will run one return service per day, with stops in Teesside and North Yorkshire, until 23 December. It plans to restart services again on 27 December, after a programme of track maintenance.

All Grand Central's Sunderland to London services will call at Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe (for Teesside), Northallerton, Thirsk and York. After the Christmas/New Year holiday period, they will all feature a full restaurant service, open to both first and standard class passengers. Free wi-fi connection throughout the train will be fitted in January.

The new Grand Central services will open up new journey opportunities to the capital for passengers from Sunderland, Hartlepool, Teesside and York, and providing an opportunity for business and leisure travellers from the South East to make direct journeys to the Tees Valley and Wearside.

Tom Clift, Managing Director of Grand Central Railway Company, said: "Our team has worked extremely hard to reach the point where we are at last able to offer our first scheduled passenger services. I would like to thank them for their hard work and commitment and also to thank all our potential passengers for their forbearance, and for the many messages of support we have received in recent weeks.

"After the regrettable delays caused by late delivery of our rolling stock fleet, following its refurbishment, I am confident that we will now be able to provide the service which people in Wearside, Teesside and North Yorkshire have been patiently awaiting."

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