Hull Trains, the open-access operator that normally runs 92 services a week from Hull to London, is suspending operations after the last train on Sunday 29 March 2020 “to safeguard the future of the business”.
As an open-access operator, Hull Trains receives no government support but has to survive on its ticket sales, the level of which has dropped dramatically in recent weeks as people have stopped travelling due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. While the government has recently announced measures to remove financial risk from the franchise operators to keep trains running, the open-access operators have not benefited from this move.
Louise Cheeseman, managing director of Hull Trains, explained: “We have explored every avenue to try and keep trains running, but, sadly, it is not currently financially viable to run our services. We play a vital role in the regional economy, as recognized by our local MPs, and wwe fully intend to resume operations as soon as we can.
“It’s been a very difficult week for the business but the reluctant decision to temporarily suspend services is the right one based on the current unprecedented circumstances and I hope our passengers understand this. The move protects the long-term future of Hull Trains and our people’s jobs which is important as it will allow us to reinstate operations quickly when possible.
“We will continue to review the dynamic situation as it unfolds and we plan to return as a resilient train operator for the city of Hull and East Riding as soon as we can.”
Hull Trains belongs to First Group. Steve Montgomery, managing director of the group’s rail division, added: “We are very sorry to all Hull Trains passengers that we will be suspending services.
“In line with the entire rail industry, passenger volumes at Hull Trains have reduced substantially since mid-March and, even with the steps we have taken to reduce the timetable we’re operating, current passenger numbers make it impossible to maintain the ongoing level of losses we have seen.
“We have sought agreement to be included in the government emergency measures but, as an open access rail operator, this has not been afforded to us. Hull Trains brings much needed connectivity to the local area providing a direct, frequent link to London that supports the local economy.
“Our commitment to Hull Trains and the entire East Yorkshire and Humber community is as strong as ever, as evidenced by our recent introduction of a £60 million fleet of new trains and we look forward to re-starting the service as soon as we can.”