HULL TRAINS has cancelled all its services between London and Hull from today.
The move follows declining demand as result of coronavirus travel restrictions. There have already been sharp reductions in the timetables of franchised operators, and the Gatwick Express service of Govia Thameslink Railway has also ceased today.
Franchised operators are now operating as management contracts with a payment capped at 2 per cent of each franchise’s ‘cost base’.
Hull Trains said franchised operators had been offered ‘additional financial support’, but this is not available to open access operators like Hull Trains, which take full commercial risk. HT had been operating 92 trains a week.
The operator’s managing director Louise Cheeseman said it had been a difficult decision, but it would ’help to safeguard the future of the business’
She continued: ‘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.’
Passengers who had already booked to travel with Hull Trains from now on will be able to use other services.
The operator is owned by FirstGroup.
FirstGroup Rail managing director Sreve Montgomery said: ‘We have sought agreement to be included in the government emergency measures but, as an open access rail operator, this has not been afforded 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.’
RMT general secretary Mick Cash is concerned about staff who are affected.
‘This decision affects 130 staff around the Hull area and they must be treated as an absolute priority. We expect the company and the Government to guarantee wages at 100 per cent and not some reduced rate and we also expect jobs, service, pensions and conditions for these rail staff to be fully protected throughout this crisis,’ he said.
He added: ‘We will be in direct talks to secure our members the guarantees they are entitled to. The Government have given the rail companies financial assurances, the same must apply to staff.’