Concerns for the future of Hull Trains

Hull’s three MPs have written a joint letter to the Transport Secretary concerned Hull Trains faces the ‘genuine prospect of going out of business permanently’ without government support.

This year marks the open access operators 20th anniversary, however since the end of March all train services were suspended as a result of unprecedented circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

As one of three open access operators in the country, it has not been offered additional financial support from the government, which franchised rail operators have.

In the letter, Karl Turner, Emma Hardy and Diana Johnson write: “If this political choice by the Government remains in place, consequences that are currently avoidable will become unavoidable. Not only will Hull Trains not be able to resume their services, but they face the genuine prospect of going out of business permanently and not existing for the time when demand and normal operations return to the rail industry. It would mean the loss of 130 local jobs at a time when we face the prospect of the deepest recession for decades.”

The letter continues: “As an open access operator wholly reliant on ticket revenues, under social distancing restrictions Hull Trains simply cannot restart without the support that Government has given to others in the rail industry. Neither can they continue to exist without at least running some limited services, as they sustain some costs without running trains.”

The suspension of services came just weeks after the introduction of the majority of its new Hitachi 802 trains, which are replacing the 180 trains.

Louise Cheeseman, managing director for Hull Trains said: “The railway network and it partners have been working with the government throughout lockdown to prepare for a safe and phased increase in rail services.

“The decision to suspend Hull Trains services in March was based on the safety of our crew and passengers and the commercial viability of running our trains with so few passengers.

“At Hull Trains we continue to assess the situation based on advice from the government and – when we are in a position to resume services – will implement all necessary precautions for the safety of our crew and passengers to start running trains as soon as we can.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We have been engaging extensively with Hull Trains and their parent group, who have access to a range of measures provided by government to support businesses across the economy. We are keen to see them return to the network once conditions permit and are in continued dialogue with them on this.

“We have already announced support to maintain essential services on rail, light rail, and bus networks across England and continue to work closely with transport operators and local authorities to ensure that public transport is available for those who need it, including any ramp up in services required as people slowly start to return to work.

“However the advice remains clear that people should work from home if they can and avoid public transport wherever possible.”