Grand Central has confirmed it will not launch its planned route between Blackpool North and London Euston after the coronavirus pandemic made plans “unachievable” for the rail operating company.
Executives at Grand Central and Arriva, the parent company of Grand Central, said after months of exploring options, it was no longer viable due to economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.
Employees likely to be affected by the decision have been made aware of the potential risk to the jobs.
Richard McClean, Managing Director of Grand Central, said: ‘So much effort has gone into these exciting plans to launch services between London and Blackpool, that it is heartbreaking to have to abandon them at this point, but the pandemic and its effects on our expansion plans have proven to be too great an obstacle.
“Because Grand Central operates under an Open Access business model, we do not receive any external financial support and we rely entirely on what we generate in ticket sales. Despite months of working to adjust our costs and monitor travel behaviors for signs of change, it became more evident to us that investing in what is essentially a start-up in this climate just wasn’t doable and so we reluctantly reached the very difficult. decision to definitively cease the project.
“We will now focus on rebuilding our two existing roads, which returned to service earlier this summer after the lockdown.
WCML services are said to have linked Blackpool, Kirkham, Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes to London Euston.
The project had previously seen Grand Central open offices in Blackpool and hire additional staff, including train drivers.
In addition, the Class 90 and Mk4 in Grand Central livery had already started testing on the WCML.
A period of consultation has now begun between the employees, the railway unions and Grand Central.
Mr. McClean added, “We have explored all possibilities to continue the Northwest Highway start-up plans and protect these jobs. The people we hired have shown incredible patience and professionalism during a time of great uncertainty. They have been at the forefront of our motivation to stay the course and provide service to new clients.
“The great support we have also received from Blackpool and other communities along the route has inspired us a lot to find a solution. I want to thank you all very much. “
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