Chamber backs South Bank MP's campaign for direct London rail link

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 27 Mar 2018

BUSINESS leaders are on board with a South Bank MP’s campaign to secure a direct train service between North East Lincolnshire and London.

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers has the backing of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce.

He has been holding talks with open access operator Grand Central Trains and Virgin East Coast about extending services on the South Bank, a move which complements the Chamber’s published Transport Priorities for the region. 

Restoring direct rail links to London on the South Bank has been a long-held ambition of the Chamber which has previously worked with former Grimsby MP Austin Mitchell and Mr Vickers’ Conservative predecessor, Michael Brown on the issue. 

They said Mr Vickers’ work with the Transport Select Committee has got “closer than ever” to restoring the rail services which are seen as increasingly important in light of the growing renewables industry in Grimsby and Port of Immingham’s expansion.

Read more: North Lincolnshire MP gathers support for direct train service to London

David Hooper, external affairs manager for Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Chamber welcomes and will support any long-term plans to secure sustainable direct train services to the Capital to aid the long-term growth and sustainability of Northern Lincolnshire.

“Martin has been talking to the train companies and looking at several options and we are happy to work with him to ensure these important ambitions become a reality sooner, rather than later, as had originally been feared.”

Although the two services would follow different routes to Grimsby and Cleethorpes, both would pass through Habrough, the nearest station to the UK’s largest port by tonnage. 

The possibility of direct London trains has steamed back up the agenda in recent months as Virgin East Coast has said it will hand back its franchise to the Government earlier than expected, raising the possibility of such a service being included in the next franchise agreement.

Read more: This is how a direct train service between Cleethorpes and London could work

Virgin is already extending its services to Lincoln next year, so there is hope that move will open up the possibility of at least a couple of trains a day up to Cleethorpes via Market Rasen.

The other possibility is for Grand Central to provide a service which would run via Scunthorpe through northern Lincolnshire, however it is understood there are difficulties to be overcome with this plan in that the train would split at Doncaster, giving rise to the possibility of delays if one part of the train were to be held up for any reason. 

Splitting trains is a common practice in southern England, but can lead to complications. A 10-car train, or set, would run from London up to Doncaster where it would then split, with five carriages continuing to service stations in Yorkshire, while the other five carriages would head for Lincolnshire. The reverse would happen for the south-bound journey, but if either half of the train was late arriving at Doncaster, it would cause issues.

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