Grand Central 1A66 from Sunderland to London Kings Cross by Train

Grand Central 1A66 Train from Sunderland to London Kings Cross

Grand Central is an open-access train company which is a subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains, with the Sunderland to London Kings Cross in operation since December 2007. Grand Central has been an open-access operator that I’ve been wanting to try, and this trip down to London with a detour via Newcastle and Sunderland was going to be it.

Sunderland Railway Station

The façade of Sunderland Railway Station.

Sunderland Railway Station is shared between Network Rail for National Rail services and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Heading down the stairs to the platform.

While Sunderland Railway Station has effectively a single island platform, it is further divided into 2 based on train stopping positions.

The middle departure screen shows both National Rail and Tyne and Wear Metro services for departure times. The screens on the side show more details for National Rail services.

Information for my Grand Central 1A66 train was shown on the screen, departing from Platform 1.

There is an enclosed waiting room on the platform to shield from the cold.

At 3.25pm, after a Tyne and Wear Metro train departed, my empty Grand Central train pulled in to Platform 1.

Grand Central Class 180 Adelante DMU

Grand Central operates with a fleet of Class 180 Adelante DMUs only.

The Grand Central logo on the side of the Class 180 Adelante DMU.

Boarding my Grand Central train.

The interior of the Grand Central Class 180 Adelante DMU. On first impression, the seats were inviting as they were much thicker than the usual iron boards in new trains.

My ticket for the Grand Central 1A66 train from Sunderland to London Kings Cross.

While I had a seat reservation in Coach D which was very full, I headed to a non-reserved table seat at Coach E with more space to myself.

3-pin power sockets are available on the wall by window seats.

It was quite an empty departure from Sunderland, but the train will fill up with every stop along the way.

Heading by the sea south of Sunderland.

A better shot of the interior with day light.

A mix of table and airline-style seats are available.

The legroom on board the Grand Central Class 180 Adelante DMU is extremely generous, and the seats are pre-reclined.

Seat reservations are indicated by the slip inserted into each seat.

Luggage racks are available near the train doors.

There is also a tip-up seat by the doors for desperate seating during peak times.

Toilets are available on board.

The buffet is located at Coach C, but this was closed when I walked past it.

The buffet would later open for at-seat services on the digital Journey Central platform.

Curving into Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Railway Station

Making a brief stop at Hartlepool Railway Station.

Eaglescliffe Railway Station

Making a brief stop at Eaglescliffe Railway Station.

Passing through Northallerton East Junction.

Northallerton Railway Station

Making a brief stop at Northallerton Railway Station. The Grand Central merges on to the East Coast Main Line (ECML) at Northallerton.

Thirsk Railway Station

There was congestion when entering Thirsk Railway Station and a longer stop too due to an earlier signalling fault delaying all trains on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). Some fast LNER trains also overtook my Grand Central 1A66 at Thirsk.

My Grand Central 1A66 train departed from Thirsk Railway Station at 4.52pm – 9 minutes delayed.

Passing by the National Railway Museum at York.

Arriving in York Railway Station.

York Railway Station

Making a brief stop at York Railway Station.

The overtaking continues with many trains bunching up, forming a fast convoy to London.

My Grand Central 1A66 train departed from York Railway Station at 5.13pm – 7 minutes delayed. Looks like the delay could be made up.

The Grand Central 1A66 train headed non-stop from York to London King’s Cross.

Passing through Doncaster Railway Works and Doncaster Railway Station at speed.

Heading through many junctions for London King’s Cross and London St. Pancras on approach to London King’s Cross.

Heading into the Gasworks Tunnel.

Approaching London King’s Cross.

Hull Trains is another open-access operator that I had wanted to try, but had no time to squeeze in a trip for it in the end.

London King’s Cross Railway Station

My Grand Central 1A66 train arrived at London King’s Cross Railway Station at 7.10pm – 2 minutes delayed.

The odd one out among the LNER Azumas.

There’s still a classic analog clock at Platform 1 with 24-hour time indicated on it.

A better view of the Grand Central Class 180 Adelante DMU at London King’s Cross after the LNER Azuma on Platform 2 had departed.

The ticket gates were opened for free exit.

The façade of London King’s Cross Railway Station.


It was a very comfortable ride on Grand Central with very comfortable seats on the Class 180 Adelante DMU, though the train was completely full after York. There was a slight delay in departure at Thirsk due to congestion, but the driver managed to make up some time along the way, arriving only 2 minutes late into London King’s Cross.

It could have been a lot worse if I had actually bought a through ticket on my initial Lumo 1E84 as I would then have been 92 minutes delayed when arriving into London King’s Cross, though it also means I would have had a full refund.

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