Grand Central started running direct trains between Sunderland and London on 18 December and had only been able to provide one direct through service in each direction, with a "short" return trip between King's Cross and York.
It had been suggested that this short return working was merely cashing-in on the revenue generated by passengers travelling on the East Coast Main Line services, though Grand Central defended its operation citing it as "very useful" in training its drivers and conductors. They also produced virtually no publicity for the short return service.
Now, however, as from this very morning, the new timetable was successfully operated seeing weekday departures from Sunderland to London at 0646 (0653 on Saturdays), 1230 and 1730, with northbound services from King's Cross to Sunderland at 0804 (0757 on Saturdays), 1127 and 1650. On Sundays the services from Sunderland will be at 0910, 1342 and 1842, returning from King's Cross at 0855, 1345 and 1820. All Grand Central’s Sunderland to London services call at Hartlepool, Eaglescliffe (for Teesside), Northallerton, Thirsk and York.
Grand Central are now able to instigate their full, planned timetable as a result of receiving delivery of their sixth and final power car. They have also received three additional carriages to extend the length and capacity of their trains. At-seat catering is being temporarily provided until a full buffet service is introduced on all services and open to all passengers.