Open access operator Hull Trains has suspended running trains due to the COVID-19 outbreak, citing financial insecurity for its decision.
In a statement released on March 29, the operator said that trains would be temporarily suspended to safeguard the future of the business.
Passenger numbers have dropped significantly on HT, even after the introduction of a revised timetable following Government advice on limiting travel.
“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 recognised by our local MPs, and we fully intend to resume operations as soon as we can,” said HT Managing Director Louise Cheeseman.
The operator relies on revenue from ticket sales, and its business model is such that it must survive purely as a commercial operator. Because it’s an open access operator, HT has not been offered additional financial support from Government in the way franchises have.
“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,” said Cheeseman.
“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.”
She added that the decision will be reviewed as the pandemic situation unfolds.
The last northbound train was March 29’s 1818 London King’s Cross-Beverley. The last southbound was the 1436 Hull-London King’s Cross the same day.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This decision affects 130 rail 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% and not some reduced rate. We also expect jobs, service, pensions and conditions for these rail staff to be fully protected throughout this crisis.”
For the FULL story, read RAIL 902, published on April 8, and available digitally from April 4.
For the FULL story regarding timetables and the railway's ongoing response to the COVID-19 situation, read RAIL 902, published on April 8, and available digitally from April 4.