Plans to downgrade Hull to Manchester rail service will undermine city, say business leaders
First TransPennine Express train
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 14 Feb 2018
Business leaders in Hull are calling for TransPennine Express to explain the decision to downgrade its Hull to Manchester services.
The franchise proposed changes last year to add an extra six stops onto its Hull to Manchester rail service, planned for May 2018.
The Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce is now calling on Leo Goodwin, managing director of the rail service provider to meet with them, Hull MPs, council representatives and rail consultants about the concerns.
In a letter handed to Mr Goodwin on Wednesday, Chamber chief executive Ian Kelly said the downgraded service would “undermine” the tourism and business growth Hull has seen because of City of Culture.
Concerns about the proposal to increase the number of stop on the Hull - Leeds – Manchester route from four to 10 were raised by the business organisation during the consultation process last summer.
The Chamber says it believes the changes will have a negative effect on the economy and connectivity in the “energy estuary”.
TransPennine Express says that the changes will only increase journey times by two minutes, but the Chamber disputes this.
The train company has planned route improvements in other areas of the North, with both Newcastle and Scarborough set to see faster services from May.
The Chamber says that proposals counter Transport for the North’s states aims to create a corridor of power between Liverpool and Hull, and says it will lobby the Department for Transport with regional MPs.
Dr Ian Kelly, said in the letter: “We made representations through the consultation process in conjunction with Hull City Council, and also wrote to you directly expressing our concerns relating to the possible effects on businesses, so we are disappointed to see these changes are still planned to be implemented in May.
“The proposals set out by TransPennine Express worsen, not improve the current service, adding an average of six minutes to journey times, and feel this is unacceptable at a time when rail links between the largest cities in the Northern Powerhouse of the country should be improved, and not downgraded.
“Hull’s year as UK City of Culture fuelled a boost in both tourism and business travel, we feel strongly that nothing should happen which could not therefore undermine this growth which is vital for Hull’s continuing renaissance as a destination city.
“The Chamber is particularly disappointed at the proposal to increase the number of stops on the Hull to Manchester service to ten intermediate stations as this represents a significant downgrading of our rail connectivity and efficiency.”
A spokeswoman for TransPennine Express said: “The Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce have sadly been wrongly advised on this matter.
“We have offered to meet with them on several occasions over the past year to inform them on the improvements proposed but have received no response. We would like to reiterate that we are still open to discussions on this matter.
“The timetable developments in May 2018 are currently being finalised but our plan will enhance connectivity to and from Hull.
“Stopping at additional stations in West Yorkshire will enable the capacity of the route to become more reliable. We know that the vast majority of customers travel from Hull to Leeds and this journey time will not be affected. Our customers travelling to and from Manchester will see an increase of around only a few minutes.
“We are currently delivering a significant investment to improve Hull’s rail services, including a £32million upgrade of our trains with free Wi-Fi in Standard and First Class and an on-board entertainment system.
“We have already introduced additional late-night services from Hull towards Leeds and Manchester and delivered a significant improvement at Hull Paragon station including new toilets, waiting rooms, retail units and a new customer information centre.”