November 2006 saw plans by new open access operator Grand Central to commence HST operation between Sunderland and Kings Cross from late 2007. After many delays and legal challenges to their existence Grand Central began operations in December 2007 using six power cars purchased outright from Porterbrook. These were the remaining six buffer-fitted power cars 43065/067/068/080/084/123 (having been converted originally for use as DVTs working with Class 91s). They were all sent to DML Devonport to have the major refurbishments required to bring them back into frontline service.
All Grand Central HST sets were painted in the black and orange livery created by the company however the early variant featured less orange.
Maintenance for the Grand Central fleet was carried out at Heaton depot in Newcastle with major heavy work and overhauls taking place at LNWR in Crewe. In 2010 Grand Central powercars were overhauled with MTU engines. All powercars were renumbered at this time becoming the sub class 43/4 for example 43068 became 43468
From January 2018 all Grand Central services became Class 180 DMU operated following a cascade of these sets from GWR. The company handed back it’s HST fleet which moved to East Midlands Trains to strengthen their fleet.
Grand Central also operate services from Kings Cross to Bradford Interchange, however these have always been booked exclusively to be worked by Class 180 DMUs. Only on very rare occasions during planned engineering works an HST has worked a Bradford diagram.