Rail Minister looks at London to northern Lincolnshire and Hull to Manchester

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 11 Mar 2019

Nearly thirty years after it ended, a direct rail link between northern Lincolnshire and London might be a realistic possibility once again.

In a meeting at Phillips 66's headquarters, Rail Minister Andrew Jones told business leaders that the expansion of direct lines to Lincoln from the capital could open the door for direct trains running through North Lincolnshire to Grimsby.

And Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, who has called for the restoration of a direct rail link to London since he was elected, said he thought there was finally light at the end of the tunnel.

He said: "I'm more hopeful than I've been for many years. We've got a Minister who is very sympathetic and has listened to the business community talk about the importance of the line, and the extension of trains to Lincoln makes the idea much more viable.

"We had a very positive response from the Minister. I've been campaigning for a return of the direct service for a good few years, and that campaign might be coming to an end.

"The meeting was about showing the demand from the business community, including Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce. Phillips 66 alone makes 700 journeys between here and London every year, which would be vastly easier with a direct train line."

Martin Vickers, Conservative MP for Cleethorpes, has campaigned for several years for a direct line to Grimsby (Image: Jon Corken)

Mr Jones was told about a recent meeting between the Chamber and LNER in York, which took over the Virgin franchise, and how when their brand new fleet of trains enter service later this year, they will be running six services a day up to Lincoln.

It was suggested that it would be an easy win for at least one or two of those services to be extended up to Grimsby and Cleethorpes, via Barnetby.

Read more: What the £70bn Northern Powerhouse transport plan means for northern Lincolnshire

Mr Jones, who is the MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, said: "It's too early to tell whether this will happen, but I am highly interested in the idea.

"Investment in transport drives growth, and a direct line between Grimsby and London would obviously be significantly more convenient for customers."

Mr Jones was visiting the Humber region, seeing the Asuma trains which will serve the East Coast Mainline.

The direct link between Grimsby and London ended in 1992, 27 years ago.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones meets with Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers and business leaders at Phillips 66 (Image: David Hooper)

Adam Fowler of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce said the increased trains to Lincoln made the line could signal a change in Grimsby's transport fortunes.

"One of the main issues has been the lack of capacity on the lines once you get to Newark. With six trains a day going straight to Lincoln from London, it would be more viable to extend them to Grimsby without added congestion," he said.

"We envision Barnetby and Habrough stations being major interchanges. The line would carry on from Lincoln to Market Rasen and end in Cleethorpes.

"Martin Vickers has been brilliant in pushing for it, and Andrew Jones showed he valued effective rail links connecting the country. The meeting was very positive.

"It's been nearly 30 years since we had a direct line, but who knows, in the next 12 months we might see some change."

Read more: East Yorkshire MP David Davis calls for HS2 to be scrapped - this is why

The Minister promised to speak with LNER’s managing director David Horne, and get his team to look seriously at what could be done, recognising the economic benefits such a service would bring to northern Lincolnshire.

Representatives from ABP, DFDS, the Chamber and Carlbom Shipping all gave clear examples of how the poor connectivity was affecting the perceptions and development of the area. Camilla Carlbom, chair of the eponymous Stallingborough-based agency, told the minister it was too embarrassing to put the Swedish Ambassador on the old rolling stock which serves northern Lincolnshire when he visited Grimsby recently.

Rail minister pledges to look into calls for direct train service from Hull to Manchester Airport

Hull MP Diana Johnson on Thursday's meeting with rail minister

A campaign to re-introduce direct rail services between Hull and Manchester Airport has stepped up a gear.

Politicians and business leaders say regular direct trains would persuade more people to consider choosing rail ahead using the M62 to reach the airport.

On Thursday they delivered that message to rail minister Andrew Jones who travelled to Hull to hear their views.

Read more: Siemens named UK's best rail firm ahead of opening Goole train factory

He pledged to look at options around providing direct services between Hull and the airport as well as increasing the frequency of trains to and from Leeds, which currently run every hour.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson said: "I am really pleased the minister came to Hull to hear the genuine concerns of a range of people over the importance of improving rail services in this part of the world.

"I think he certainly understood the fact that Hull is at the end of line, both literally and in terms of  investment in the railways and he promised to include Hull in a review of how future investment is distributed.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson (Image: kwoolhouse)

"We set out the case for a direct service to Manchester Airport because it's frankly ridiculous that Hull is the only city in the Northern Powerhouse are without one.

"You can get a direct train from Llandudno or Scarborough to the airport but not from Hull. It just doesn't make any sense.

"We also told the minister about the need to increase the frequency of the hourly service to Leeds.

"There is a chance something might be done about that towards the end of the year if the will is there but it would require changes to the franchising system and co-operation between a number of organisations, including the Department for Transport and Transport for the North."

Read more: Hull Trains' new safety boss hopes to keep operator on right track

Hull West and Hessle MP Emma Hardy also attended the meeting held at the headquarters of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce.

Rail minister Andrew Jones (left) at today's meeting at the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce (Image: Kevin Morton)

She said: "One of the reasons Hull gets overlooked for rail funding is the way the government collects statistics on passenger numbers.

"They do not include passengers on open access services such as Hull Trains which tends to skew things because, as we know, a lot of people use Hull Trains.

"The minister acknowledged that and will factor it in as part of his review."

Chamber chief executive Ian Kelly said: "It was encouraging to hear the minister say there will be a strategic look at this region and, in particular, the need for a direct service to Manchester Airport.

"It's about different bits of government joining up to make it happen and recognise the connection between hi-tech investment by the likes of Siemens and Orsted in offshore wind and the need to improve a transport infrastructure which, in same places, dates from the age of the stagecoach."

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