On the August Bank Holiday weekend (24-26 August 2019), when King’s Cross station was closed for major work, most trains running on the East Coast main line to London were cancelled or terminated at Peterborough. LNER ran no services into London on the Saturday and Sunday, and a very limited service on Monday.
But Hull Trains, the open-access operator that links Hull with King’s Cross down that same East Coast main line, didn’t accept that. Conscious that major events such as the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final and the Notting Hill Carnival were taking place in London over the weekend, Hull Trains worked hard to find an alternative.
Eventually, Hull Trains was granted permission by Network Rail to run into St Pancras station instead, which is across the road from King’s Cross. It was a good solution, as the two London termini even share an underground station, so many passengers actually ended up in the same place.
Hull Trains managing director Louise Cheeseman explained: “An incredible amount of planning had to take place, along with multiple meetings with Network Rail and the other train operators as well as the safety teams.
“Meetings started over 12 months ago when we were made aware that the Kings Cross closure was going to take place on the weekend of the Challenge Cup final.
“Even if our local clubs didn’t make the final, we always transport a lot of people to the annual event and we didn’t want to let them down. We also needed to ensure we didn’t let this closure impact too heavily on our revenue line.
“Many seasoned railway people saw this project as ‘too difficult’ and have been watching us throughout the weekend with interest to see whether ‘little old Hull Trains’ could actually pull it off. We did and I would like to pay tribute to everybody that had any involvement in this huge project.”
It was a very successful weekend, even though neither Hull team reached the Challenge Cup final. HKR and Hull FC were both knocked out by eventual winner Warrington, in the quarter and semi-finals respectively.
Still, Hull Trains did run 11 trains into St Pancras over the weekend, and that was a great result.