Train operator Grand Central has announced a “measured” return to service following a four-month period of hibernation during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Yorkshire-based company is allowing passengers to book for its West Riding and North East routes from July 26.

The firm, which operates from London King’s Cross to Yorkshire and the North East, went out of action in early April due to a collapse in demand caused by the pandemic.

It is one of a handful of Britain’s open access train companies which have not benefited from the Department for Transport’s package of support for franchised operators to keep their services running.

The business will resume with two daily return services between Bradford Interchange and King’s Cross and a further three daily return services between Sunderland and King’s Cross.

Drivers and operational staff will begin their return to work soon.

Grand Central thanked customers for their support whilst services have been suspended, and invited passengers to once again “put their faith” in the company.

Managing director Richard McClean said: “In late March, it became obvious to us we couldn’t operate a viable rail service under the Government’s lockdown rules.

“Social distancing and a ban on non-essential travel meant we had no option but to put our trains to bed and place the majority of our staff on furlough.

“Since that decision we have worked hard to plan every aspect of a safe, sustainable return and we can now see that the lockdown has eased to such a degree for us to begin a measured return to service from late July.”

He added: “To be able to once again invite passengers to make seat reservations and buy tickets makes our return very real.

“The values of the Grand Central you enjoyed before the lockdown, such as getting the basics right and caring for our customers and colleagues, are still very much here and we will uphold those values now while ensuring the absolute safety of our passengers and staff.

“We have stayed close to all of the work our fellow train operators have been doing and we’re confident our approach will work for everyone.

We’ve engaged in wide-reaching passenger surveys over the past couple of months and we’ve listened to you all on what you expect safe train travel to look like.

“If you buy your tickets on our website and provide your contact details, we’ll be able to let you know the latest information you’ll need for your journey.”