GRAND Central has maintained its position at the top of the rankings in an independent train passenger satisfaction survey.

The rail operator received a 95 per cent 'overall satisfaction' score in the annual survey by watchdog group Passenger Focus.

This was seven per cent higher than its long distance competitors and 12 per cent above the national average for train operators.

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Grand Central launched in 2007, operating trains between Sunderland and London Kings' Cross. It is regarded in the industry as an 'open access' operator, since it does not have a franchise deal with the Department for Transport.

The company, based in York, was bought by transport giant Arriva in November 2011.