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UK-based rail operator Grand Central Railway has temporarily halted its train services from 3 April due to travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which has led to a reduction in passenger numbers.

The operator runs rail services between Sunderland, Bradford and London Kings Cross, and expects the suspension to last for at least two months.

As an open-access operator, Grand Central Railway assumes all the business risk and does not share the burden with the government, unlike other rail franchises.

The company is also not provided additional financial support under the Emergency Measures Agreement offered to other rail franchises by the Government.

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By GlobalData

Grand Central MD Richard McClean said: “So far we have offered a rail service, under a reduced timetable, in order to keep key-workers moving at a time of crisis. This comes with all the costs of running a train service while bringing no ticket revenue to our business.

“This situation is unsustainable and, following several days of discussion with the Department for Transport (DfT), we have no alternative but to suspend our services.

“Customers who have a ticket to travel with Grand Central can claim a full refund from the place they bought their ticket. People who absolutely need to travel, in line with government restrictions, can use their Grand Central ticket to travel on other train companies’ services.”

He said that the rail operator has also suspended the preparations for the Blackpool-London Euston services until next year.

Additionally, it will also suspend the launch of the extra daily trains on the Sunderland – Kings Cross route.

The company has also conducted talks with the three main rail unions so that staff are provided with ‘the best possible outcome’ during this time.

McClean added: “I emphasise that while these measures are necessary now, we are planning for them to be temporary.

“Grand Central enters this new chapter from a strong position. My team and I will do everything we can to get Grand Central back on track once restrictions are lifted. Until then, please stay safe.”

Last month, UK-based railway operator Hull Trains also suspended its rail operations amid the pandemic.