Grand Central is opening a new operations base in the North East as it continues to invest in the region.

The long-distance train operator has signed a lease on a 5,500sq ft historic building in the heart of Sunderland city centre which will act as its new North East management office and depot.

Overseeing its North East service group, the office will act as a base for around 60 members of traincrew and company management.

Based in the Athenaeum Building at 27 Fawcett Street, it was the building’s close proximity to Sunderland station, which is just a stone’s throw away, that attracted Grand Central to the site.

Chris Brandon, head of business development at Grand Central, said: “Given we are the main operator of direct services between Sunderland and London, we needed to stay in close proximity of the station, so it was absolutely perfect.

“We also wanted somewhere that our staff could call their own and would give us the space to grow as we continue investing in the region and improving our services, so it just ticked all of the boxes.”

Grand Central operates six (five on Sundays) return trains direct between Sunderland and London every day. The new Sunderland office will act as a base for the crew working on the route as well as housing its train driver simulator and providing space for management to work.

“It’ll provide space for around 10-15 office staff at any given time, with around 60 crew members also using it to sign on, receive briefings and meet up,” Chris added.

“It will also be somewhere that our management teams can work from when they are visiting our sites across the region, so it will be great for them to be right at the heart of all of the exciting developments going on across the city centre, especially the transformation of the station.”

Grand Central’s previous North East head office was located within the former Sunderland Station building, but the £26million redevelopment of the hub led to the company seeking a new home for staff to call their own.

After liaising with the Business Investment Team at Sunderland City Council, they were shown around The Athenaeum Building overlooking the Station and ‘immediately knew they had found the perfect space to suit their needs.

Cllr Kevin Johnston, dynamic city cabinet member at Sunderland City Council, said: “We are delighted that Grand Central is not only remaining in the city, but also taking up more space to potentially grow its operations here in the future.

“The ongoing redevelopment of Sunderland city centre is one of the UK’s most ambitious urban regeneration projects and so it’s fantastic to see Grand Central joining the many large employers who are seeing the potential of this rapidly changing city and choosing to invest here.”