Open main menu

Hull Trains[2] is an open access operator in England owned by FirstGroup.[3] It operates long-distance services between Hull/Beverley and London King's Cross. It has a track-access agreement until December 2029.

Hull Trains
180113 at Peterborough.jpg
Franchise(s)Open access operator
Not subject to franchising
25 September 2000 - December 2029
Main region(s)Hull and Selby Railway
East Coast Main Line
Fleet size4 Class 180 Adelantes
2 HST sets
National Rail abbreviationHT
Parent companyFirstGroup
Route map
Route map
Hull Trains Route
Hull Paragon
London King's Cross London Underground




Hull Trains logo (2002-2008)

In 1999, there was only one through train per day each way between Hull and London King's Cross, GNER's Hull Executive. In May 1999, former British Rail managers Mike Jones and John Nelson lodged an application to operate an open access service through their Renaissance Trains business.[4] A joint venture was formed with GB Railways taking an 80% shareholding and Jones and Nelson each holding 10%.[5][6][7]

In December 1999, a four-year track access agreement was granted by the Office of Rail Regulation with operations commencing on 25 September 2000.[8][9][10] In September 2002, the access agreement was extended for ten years.[11]

In August 2003, GB Railway's shareholding was included in the sale of the business to FirstGroup.[12][13][14][15]

In June 2008, Hull Trains was rebranded as First Hull Trains, adopting FirstGroup's corporate blue, pink and white colours.[16] In January 2009, the access rights were extended until December 2014,[17] and in February 2010 was further extended until December 2016.[18] It was later extended until December 2019.[19]

In August 2014, FirstGroup purchased the remaining 20% shareholding. In 2015, it resumed trading as Hull Trains. In March 2016, First Hull Trains obtained approval for a further 10 year open access agreement until 2029,[20] allowing them to proceed with ordering five Class 802 electro-diesel multiple-units which had been announced by the operator on 3 September 2015.[21][22]


Hull Trains
Route tpd Intermediate stops
London King's Cross to Hull 5 Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough
4 trains per day on Sundays. Stevenage served by 2 trains per day on Sundays for set down southbound / 1 train per day pick up northbound only.
London King's Cross to Beverley 2 Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough, Hull, Cottingham
1tph at weekends and selected Bank Holidays. Retford not called at on Saturdays

Hull Trains operates up to five daily return services between Hull and London King's Cross on weekdays and a twice daily service between Beverley and King's Cross. On weekends there are five daily services between Hull and King's Cross only.

Hull Trains commenced running three services per day on 25 September 2000. In December 2002 a fourth daily service commenced, in May 2004 a fifth, in May 2005 a sixth, and later a seventh.[23][24]

On 4 February 2015, one service per weekday was extended from Hull to Beverley in each direction.[25] In December 2015, one service was extended to Beverley on weekends.[26][27]

In April 2019, Hull Trains lodged an application which included plans to extend two services from Hull to Beverley with one starting at Beverley in the morning and one finishing at Beverley in the evening from May 2019.[28] This was approved by the Office of Rail and Road.[29]

Expansion proposalsEdit

In 2008, First Hull Trains applied for track access rights to run services between Harrogate and London King's Cross via York under the First Harrogate Trains banner and from Cleethorpes to King's Cross via Lincoln and Spalding.[30][31][32] In January 2009, the Office of Rail Regulation released its decisions on the ECML route planning and rejected First Harrogate Trains' application.[33]

Rolling stockEdit

Class 180 Standard Class Interior
Class 180 First Class Interior

Hull Trains began operations with 3-car Class 170 Turbostars hired from sister GB Railways company Anglia Railways. There was at least one occurrence of an Anglia Railways Class 86 and Mark 2 set operating as far as Doncaster.[34][35]

When the Strategic Rail Authority changed its policy on allowing train operating company assets to be hired out, Hull Trains needed to acquire its own fleet. It ordered four 3-car Class 170 Turbostars, the first entering service in March 2004.[36] These were intended only as an interim solution as four 4-car Class 222 Pioneers were ordered at the same time, but because the former were part of a speculative order already placed by Porterbrook they would be available in time.[37][38][39][40]

The Class 170 Turbostars entered service in March 2004.[36] It was planned that after being replaced, they would then be used on new services, but these services were never introduced, so the Class 170 trains were transferred to First ScotRail.[41][42] The Class 222 Pioneers entered service from May 2005.[43][44]

In January 2007, a Class 222 Pioneer was damaged when it was dropped off a maintenance jack; it would ultimately take two years to repair.[45][46] After making do with only three trains, in January 2008 a Class 86 was hired from the AC Locomotive Group to haul a set of Mark 3s hired from Cargo-D for weekend London King's Cross to Doncaster services.[47][48][49]

In April 2008, two Class 180 Adelantes were leased to replace the locomotive-hauled set and allow a maintenance backlog that accrued on the Class 222 Pioneers to be cleared.[50] Later in 2008 another two were leased to release the Class 222 Pioneers for transfer to East Midlands Trains in 2009.[51][52]

These trains helped First Hull Trains gain more capacity by an extra carriage, but when the units first arrived they were plagued by technical difficulties, and a period of poor reliability for the company followed. However, First Hull Trains has improved reliability dramatically since their introduction. The units have also been given a refresh internally with new seat covers and a deep clean. New catering facilities for first class have also been provided, and externally the units have been repainted in FirstGroup's neon blue livery.

In the Class 180s, Coach A is standard seating, Coach B is standard class including the buffet/shop, Coach C is standard seating, Coach D is first class, and Coach E contains airline-style seating and wheelchair accommodation.[citation needed]

Following reliability problems being encountered with the Class 180s, an InterCity 125 was hired from Great Western Railway from February 2019.[53] In April 2019, Hull Trains introduced another HST to their network following more reliability problems.[54]

Current fleetEdit

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Carriages   Routes operated   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 43 High Speed Train   Diesel locomotive 125 200 4 2 + 5 Beverley/Hull - London King's Cross 1975-82
Mark 3 Coach   Passenger coach 10
Class 180 Adelante   diesel multiple unit 4 5 2000-2001

Future fleetEdit

In September 2015, Hull Trains announced a £60 million order for five new 5-car bi-mode high-speed trains from Hitachi,[55] with seating for 320 people and a maximum speed of 140 mph.[56] In its proposed track access application, Hull Trains confirmed that these would be Class 802s.[57]

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Carriages   Routes   Built 
mph km/h
Class 802 AT300   Bi-Mode Multiple Unit 140 225 5 5 Beverley/Hull - London King's Cross Late 2019

Past fleetEdit

Class Image Type Built Number Withdrawn Notes
Class 170 Turbostar   diesel multiple unit 1999–2004 4 2005 Replaced by Class 222 Pioneer and transferred to First ScotRail
Class 222 Pioneer   2005 2009 Replaced by Class 180 Adelante.
Class 222s transferred to East Midlands Trains, locomotive hauled stock stored.
Class 86   Electric locomotive 1965–1966 1 2008
Mark 3 Carriage   Passenger Carriage 1975–1988 5
  Driving Van Trailer 1988 1


Maintenance of the Class 180 Adelantes was undertaken at Old Oak Common Depot alongside Great Western Railway's fleet;[58][59] this depot closed in 2018. Two sets (or occasionally three if there are no sets on maintenance) are stabled and serviced each night in Hull sidings by Hull Trains staff (where there are usually two fitters on at night to undertake basic fault repair and diagnostics) with fuelling and emptying of toilet tanks being undertaken at Northern's Botanic Gardens Depot. The third service set is stabled at either Bounds Green or Old Oak Common as service requirements dictate. A day fitter is based at Hull from Bombardier at Crofton TMD. Much of this work was undertaken by Bombardier at Crofton and only one set left in Hull each night.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Companies House extract company no 3715410 Hull Trains Company Limited
  3. ^ [2] FirstGroup plc Annual Report 2015
  4. ^ "New operator plans London-Hull trains" Rail Magazine issue 357 19 May 1999 page 5
  5. ^ "Joint venture for London-Hull trains" Rail Magazine issue 365 8 September 1999 page 8
  6. ^ "GB buys into Hull Trains" Rail Business Intelligence issue 111 30 September 1999 page 5
  7. ^ "Renaissance and GB Railways join to form Hull Trains Co" Rail Express issue 41 October 1999 page 7
  8. ^ "Hull Trains - Three services just the start" Rail Magazine issue 374 12 January 2000 page 5
  9. ^ "New link launched from Hull to London" Rail Magazine issue 392 20 September 2000 page 14
  10. ^ Happy 10th Birthday for Hull Trains Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine Rail Express 23 September 2010
  11. ^ Ten Year Access Granted Hull Trains 18 June 2002
  12. ^ Hull Trains Company Limited Annual Accounts 2002
  13. ^ GB Rail Offer Unconditional FirstGroup 14 August 2003
  14. ^ "First Group buys GB for $22million" The Railway Magazine issue 1229 September 2003 page 10
  15. ^ "GB Railways is bought by First Group for £22 million" Rail Express issue 88 September 2003 page 8
  16. ^ The Pioneer Issue seven Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine. First Hull Trains Magazine Spring 2008.
  17. ^ ORR announces its proposed decision on East Coast Main Line track access applications Office of Rail Regulation 29 January 2009
  18. ^ ORR Approves East Coast Main Line track access applications Office of Rail Regulation 11 February 2010
  19. ^ First Hull Trains records a record year and secures three year extension to run services until 2019 First Hull Trains 20 January 2015
  20. ^ "First Hull Trains track access extended until 2029". European Railway Review. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Electrification delays force Hull Trains to go bi-mode" Railway Magazine issue 781 19 August 2015 page 14
  22. ^ "Hull Trains plans bi-mode fleet" Modern Railways issue 804 September 2015 page 9
  23. ^ "Hull Trains starts fifth London train" Rail Magazine issue 486 28 April 2004 page 13
  24. ^ "Six trans a day for HT" Rail Magazine issue 515 8 June 2005 page 13
  25. ^ MP delighted at new direct train service from Beverley to London First Hull Trains 3 February 2015
  26. ^ "Hull Trains proposes weekends to Beverley" Rail Magazine issue 785 14 October 2015 page 11
  27. ^ "Hull Trains launches direct weekend rail link from Beverley to London". Hull Daily Mail. 5 December 2015.
  28. ^ "Application to the Office of Rail Regulation for a passenger track access agreement, or amendment to a passenger track access agreement under sections 17-22A of the Railways Act 1993" (PDF). Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  29. ^ "Hull Trains to run Additional services". Insider Media Limited 13 May 2019. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  30. ^ Hull Trains - Track Access Rights on the East coast Main Line Archived 25 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine Office of the Rail Regulator 19 March 2008
  31. ^ "Three companies want East Coast paths" Today's Railways issue 78 June 2008 page 6
  32. ^ "Hull Trains applies to serve Harrogate four times a day" Rail Magazine issue 594 18 June 2008 page 12
  33. ^ "Grand Northern set for Bradford" Rail Magazine issue 611 11 February 2009 page 20
  34. ^ "Hull Trains uses Anglia 86 on ECML after 170 failure" Rail Magazine issue 428 6 February 2002 page 53
  35. ^ "GB Rail runs Class 86 and push-pull set on ECML" The Railway Magazine issue 1211 March 2002 page 33
  36. ^ a b "Hull Trains takes 170s" Rail Magazine issue 485 14 April 2004 page 29
  37. ^ "New Trains for Hull Trains As Company Announces Million Investment" (Press release). Hull Trains. 20 September 2002. Archived from the original on 24 January 2003.
  38. ^ " Hull Trains buys 222s and 170s from Bombardier" Rail Magazine issue 445 2 October 2002 page 9
  39. ^ "Hull Trains goes for Voyager-style units" The Railway Magazine issue 1219 November 2002 page 9
  40. ^ "New trains for Hull Trains" Entrain issue 11 November 2002 page 15
  41. ^ "Hull Trains Class 170s heading for Scotland" The Railway Magazine issue 1244 page 64
  42. ^ "Hull Trains Class 170s now in Scotland" Rail Magazine issue 516 22 June 2005 page 10
  43. ^ "Hull Trains' 125mph Pioneer starts East Coast service" Rail Magazine issue 515 8 June 2012 page 8
  44. ^ "Hull Trains" The Railway Magazine issue 1252 August 2005 page 95
  45. ^ "Hull Trains short of stock as unit falls from jacks" Rail Magazine issue 558 31 January 2007 page 15
  46. ^ "Hull Trains Pioneer damaged after liftng jack collapses" The Railway Magazine issue 1271 March 2007 page 11
  47. ^ "Hull Trains presses 86101 into action" Rail Magazine issue 576 10 October 2007 page 20
  48. ^ "Preserved 86 enters service with Hull Trains" Railway Magazine issue 584 30 January 2008 page 11
  49. ^ "Hull Trains replaces Class 86 with Class 180" The Railway Magazine issue 1286 June 2008 page 74
  50. ^ "Hull Trains takes delivery of first 180" Rail Magazine issue 588 26 March 2008 page 62
  51. ^ "Hull Trains to go all Adelante" Rail Express issue 153 February 2009 page 4
  52. ^ "222/1s for EMT" Today's Railways issue 86 February 2009 page 57
  53. ^ HST enters service with Hull Trains Rail Express issue 265 April 2019 page 79
  54. ^ [3]
  55. ^ Clinnick, Richard (3 July 2019). "Hull Trains expect November start for new Class 802/3s". Rail Magazine. No. 882. Peterborough: Bauer Media. p. 32. ISSN 0953-4563.
  56. ^ "Hull rail firm to buy 140mph trains". BBC News. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  57. ^ "3.2". Proposed Track Access Contract Between Network Rail Infrastructure Limited and Hull Trains Company Limited under Section 17 of the Railways Act 1993 (PDF) (Report). Office of Rail and Road. 7 October 2015. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  58. ^ "Hull Trains to maintain Adelantes at Old Oak" Rail Magazine issue 639 10 March 2010 page 28
  59. ^ "Old Oak to maintain Adelantes" The Railway Magazine issue 1309 May 2010 page 81

External linksEdit

  Media related to Hull Trains at Wikimedia Commons