North East commuters say Grand Central ‘is first class’

A Grand Central train at King's Cross station in London./ Picture by: Martin Keene/PA Archive/Press Association Images.
A Grand Central train at King’s Cross station in London./ Picture by: Martin Keene/PA Archive/Press Association Images.

North-East commuters have backed a consumer survey which found that Grand Central Rail is the best train operator in England.

Grand Central, which runs five trains a day between Sunderland and London, achieved a customer satisfaction score of 79 per cent in a survey conducted by Which? magazine.

The announcement means that the company has topped the list for a second successive year.

Carole Brooke, a retired cleaner from Marsden, supports the survey’s findings.

She said: “I have used the trains a few times when I’ve gone on trips to York and London. I’ve always had a pleasant experience when I’ve been on them and have had no complaints about the service.”

The achievement comes after the company revealed plans to invest £7.8m to improve the reliability, capacity and comfort of its services in October 2014.

Sean English, Acting Managing Director at Grand Central Rail, said: “We are delighted that the investment into our fleet last year has clearly paid off, and passengers are seeing the benefits on board.

“The fact that our customers have recognised this is testament to us delivering against our commitment.”

Commuters rated Grand Central as a five star service in five of the six categories, including reliability and the condition of the train.

Mr English said: “It is clear that the new seating and décor on our services is being noticed by passengers and we continue to pride ourselves on the reliability of our service.

“I am very proud of Grand Central’s fantastic achievement and I am thrilled that our customers continue to express high levels of satisfaction with our offering.”

While Maria Jones, a teaching assistant from Sunderland, believes that the service is “generally very good”, she thinks the company does have some flaws.

She said: “Overall, it is a good service, particularly compared to some other operators who I’ve had bad experiences with. But that’s not to say that there aren’t some issues.

“Sometimes the trains can be a bit dirty. I’ve sat down and there’s been crumbs all over the seat for example.”

Mrs Jones also disputed the five stars which the company was awarded for punctuality.

“I’ve found that trains are delayed quite a lot and my daughter has been delayed a few times,” she said. “Maybe I’ve just been unlucky or it’s been a bad day.”

She did, however, praise train staff.

She said: “I can’t fault the people who work on the trains. They are always very accommodating and help passengers in any way that they can.

“Overall, my experiences have been pleasant enough. A service is never going to be 100% perfect and I think that they do a good job.”

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