Looking to expand: a Grand Central Class 180 races south at Abbots Ripton with a Sunderland to King’s Cross service on 7 February 2018. Fraser Pithie

OPEN ACCESS operator Grand Central hopes to secure the four Class 180 DMUs currently used by Hull Trains to support the new service it proposes to operate to Cleethorpes (p13, last month).

GC intends to apply to the Office of Rail and Road for access rights for the new services in the early part of this year and hopes they could begin in 2020. This would involve 10-car Class 180 formations running in existing paths from King’s Cross to Doncaster, where they would split into portions to Bradford as at present and to Cleethorpes. GC also intends to apply to operate one additional service each on its current West Riding and Sunderland routes.

The operator has recently taken on five Class 180s from Great Western Railway, which has allowed it to release its three HST sets to East Midlands Trains. The growth of its fleet from eight to 10 trains is initially supporting a refurbishment of the ‘180s’ but would later enable the extra services on its current routes to be added.

The Cleethorpes service would require GC to take on the four ‘180s’ currently used by Hull Trains, which are due to be replaced in 2019 by five new Hitachi Class 802 bi-modes. GC managing director Richard McClean told Modern Railways running Class 180s in multiple will require some modifications, including to the configuration of the couplers.