Posted 3rd November 2020 | No Comments

Open access services cancelled again

Updated 11.06, 15.07

THE new lockdown in England has prompted open access operator Hull Trains to suspend its services from Thursday until further notice. Grand Central will follow suit a day later.

The RMT reacted by claiming that open access operators have become the ‘poor relation’ in the rail sector because they do not qualify for state support, unlike the former franchises which are now running under Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements.

It will be the second time this year that lockdowns have caused the withdrawal of all open access services between London King’s Cross and Hull, Sunderland and Bradford.

Hull Trains passengers were notified by a Tweet which said: ‘We are sorry to announce that Hull Trains is temporarily suspending all services as a result of the lockdown from 00.01 on Thursday, November 5, until further notice.’

The message continued: ‘Thank you to everyone who has travelled with us since August, please stay safe and we look forward to seeing you on our services again in the future. We plan to return to service as soon as we can.’

Hull Trains managing director Louise Cheeseman said: ‘Sadly we are reluctantly suspending all our rail services in response to the national lockdown.

‘This is the second time we have temporarily suspended services and the decision has been made to safeguard the future of the business. It would be foolhardy of us to run trains when people are being asked to stay at home and our business isn’t in a position to be generating an income from passengers buying train tickets. 

‘We hope to safely resume services as soon as we can in the future, when it is financially viable to do so.’

Grand Central trains will cease running at the end of Friday’s service, a day later than Hull Trains. 

Grand Central managing director Richard McClean said: ‘After careful weighing up of our options and following discussions with the Department for Transport and trade union representatives, it’s clear that the difficult but necessary measure of taking a short period of hibernation is our only course of action. We enjoyed tremendous support from our customers after resuming services following the first national lockdown, and we thank them for their patience once again.

‘Grand Central’s open access business model means, unlike most train operators, we rely exclusively on income from ticket sales, with no subsidy from Government. The new lockdown will bring an inevitable fall in passenger numbers, meaning it is not possible to continue operating during this period.’

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘‎RMT is calling for more government support for these essential services between Humberside, West Yorkshire, the north east of England and London consistent with statements about levelling up the country. We are talking about the long term future of important transport links to the north backed by the 5,800 people who have signed an RMT petition calling for government support for the services provided by open access operators.

‘RMT is building political support, and we will do everything in our power to secure the futures of the staff working on Hull Trains and Grand Central.’