Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, has met with Transport for the North (TfN) and lobbied the Rail Minister in order to raise the struggles currently being faced by Hull Trains at the highest level.
Hull Trains has been forced to suspend its services since 30th March as a result of the huge decline in passenger numbers. As an ‘Open Access Operator’, the company do not receive income from Government contracts like franchised train services, but instead bid for spaces on the UK’s rail system and rely entirely on their revenue from ticket sales.
While franchised services are being given additional support by the Government, which has taken on all of their revenue and cost risks, independent operators like Hull Trains are struggling to cope with the sharp fall in income coupled with ongoing costs such as maintenance and the lease for the new Hitachi train fleet.
Graham met with TfN to encourage the body, which was formed in 2018, to use its voice and influence to make as much noise as possible about the importance of Hull Trains to East Riding and the Humber.
The local MP commented, “I was pleased to hear that TfN has already met with the Government on three separate occasions to discuss the future of Hull Trains, and I know that the Department for Transport has said that they are looking at what can be done to offer support.
“I know from my own personal experience just how important Hull Trains are for our area. They have defied expectations time and again, and have just invested in a state-of-the-art fleet of trains to offer a more comfortable and reliable journey. I always use Hull Trains as a matter of choice whenever I have to journey down to Westminster and back.
“Hull Trains have been able to make good use of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme to all but eliminate their wage costs, but I’ve been lobbying the Rail Minister to ask what more can be done to ensure that connectivity in East Riding and the Humber isn’t set back by more than 20 years.
“Without Hull Trains, we’d go back to having just one return service to London a day; at 7am and 5pm. This would be ridiculous for our area, and a huge step back.”
Current social distancing guidelines mean that Hull Trains would lose the use of roughly one-third of their seats as passenger demand slowly returns to normal, while it is estimated that LNER – the franchised operator between Hull and London – would also operate at two-thirds of their capacity due to staff illness and public health measures.
Graham added, “I’ve made the case to both the Government and TfN that some work needs to be done on modelling future passenger numbers so that Hull Trains and LNER can at least be given certainty on the services that will be required.
“Hopefully, there could even be scope for the two to work in tandem: which would help meet the shortfall in capacity at the same time as helping Hull Trains to get back on their feet.”
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