THE businessman who realised a dream by launching his own rail company is now at the centre of a bitter dispute with the York-based business.

Grand Central, which runs four direct daily services from York to London, has revealed that former managing director Ian Yeowart is taking it to an employment tribunal after it dismissed him earlier this year.

And the company says it is investigating whether he is in breach of obligations through his involvement in a new rival railway company, Alliance Rail Holdings Ltd.

It claimed in a statement that Grand Central has a registered interest in some of the routes Alliance Rail is planning to operate – which include Liverpool to Hull via Selby and Huddersfield to London – and Mr Yeowart worked on these in the course of his duties with Grand Central.

“Grand Central is currently considering its legal position regarding Alliance Rail’s proposed new open access services and particularly Mr Yeowart’s involvement therein,” it said.

The rift is a startling twist in the career of Mr Yeowart, 55, of Earswick, York, a former Regional Railways North East manager, who first revealed in the mid-1990s how he wanted to launch a new rail company by the name of Grand Central.

His original scheme for a new high standard cross-Pennine train service hit the buffers, but he then came up with fresh proposals for trains from Sunderland to London via York, which was launched in December 2007.

Just weeks before, he took up a new post of managing director of Grand Union, a separate development arm of Grand Central, which won the go-ahead earlier this year for an extra train a day on the Sunderland-York-London route. He was in this job when he was dismissed in May this year.

Grand Central’s statement said the board considered that Mr Yeowart remained bound by certain post-employment obligations owed to the company by virtue of his former employment, and also remained subject to obligations imposed on him relating to his investment in Sula TOC Ltd, Grand Central’s holding company.

“Grand Central is concerned that, by reason of his recent actions, Mr Yeowart may be in breach of certain of these obligations, and is undertaking further investigations in this regard.”

Mr Yeowart said that, with an employment tribunal pending, he was unable to comment.