In our Blog last week we said that the Government’s plans for putting franchised train operators onto management contracts made no reference to Open Access operators.
Now we get the news that Hull Trains, a First Group company, has decided to suspend all its services until further notice. A statement on the Hull Trains website this morning read:
“As a result of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, passenger numbers across the industry have dropped significantly since national guidance was issued for people to stay at home and stop all non-essential travel.
‘Hull Trains is an open access operator and does not have a contract with the government, as a result we have not been offered additional financial support which franchised rail operators have in the form of an Emergency Measures Agreement.
‘After exploring all possible avenues to keep services running, it is not currently financially viable to run our services.
‘If you are a key worker and your travel is essential Hull Trains tickets WILL be accepted across all other train operating companies”.
Rail union RMT responded to the service suspension by saying:
"This decision affects 130 rail staff around the Hull area and they must be treated as an absolute priority. We expect the company and the Government to guarantee wages at 100% and not some reduced rate and we also expect jobs, service, pensions and conditions for these rail staff to be fully protected throughout this crisis. We will be in direct talks to secure our members the guarantees they are entitled to. The Government have given the rail companies financial assurances, the same must apply to staff".
Open Access operator Grand Central, which also operates on the East Coast Main Line has now also suspended its services.
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.