Finance

Special celebrations planned for Hull Trains’ 21st as passengers return

Passenger numbers are continuing to increase as Hull Trains builds back from the pandemic.

A milestone 21st anniversary of operations will be celebrated early next month, with three periods of ‘lockdown hibernation’ robbing the team of celebrating the two decade mark in 2020.

Now, as footfall returns to the direct London route – with the latest timetable seeing services back up to six daily return runs during the week – the business is looking ahead to building on a remarkable growth story.

Read more: Hull at the forefront of UK low carbon manufacturing once again as new build regulations loom

It launched in September 2000, taking 80,000 passengers between Hull Paragon Station and London’s King’s Cross in that first year.

By 2005 it had carried its one millionth passenger, and by 2018 it had welcomed 10 million. With the company named Best UK Train Operator, and frequently topping passenger satisfaction charts, services were further increased as a £60 million investment saw a fleet replacement.

King's Cross trains on the new platforms, including Hull Trains's Paragon fleet and LNER's Azuma - which could soon run to North East Lincolnshire.
King’s Cross trains on the new platforms, including Hull Trains’s Paragon fleet and LNER’s Azuma.

The high-tech bi-mode electric and diesel trains, assembled by Hitachi in the UK, are one of the most modern and innovative trains on the UK’s rail network.

But the arrival of coronavirus meant the full potential of the fleet has yet to be realised, with services stopping as the open access operator isn’t supported in the way franchised routes are.

Cloth had to be cut, with jobs lost, but now the business is looking ahead to the unveiling of a commemorative 21st anniversary design being unveiled on the fifth and final unit of the Paragon fleet.

Andy Mellors, managing director for non-franchised businesses at parent company FirstGroup Rail Division, said: “At the heart of Hull Trains’ success has been our customers; the strength of feeling towards Hull Trains from the local community, I believe, is unrivalled.

“Even during the challenging period we have recently faced as a result of the pandemic, the people of Hull and East Yorkshire were unwavering in their support. We would like to thank customers and stakeholders for their support over the last 21 years.

Special celebrations planned for Hull Trains' 21st as passengers return

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“Likewise, colleagues at Hull Trains remain just as committed to delivering first class customer service as they did when we first started. Our colleagues are what makes travelling on a Hull Trains service so special.”

The train will depart at 10:33am on Friday, October 8 from Hull Paragon Station on its maiden journey with its new livery.

Mr Mellors, who is overseeing the business following managing director Louise Cheeseman’s recent departure to Transport for London, said: “Passenger numbers are continuing to increase which is great news for the city of Hull and East Yorkshire as direct rail connections to London have played a major role in strengthening the regional economy.”

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