UK: Vowing to ‘build the business back up’ having made around a quarter of its staff redundant, Hull Trains Managing Director Louise Cheeseman announced on March 1 that the open access operator would restart services between London and East Yorkshire from April 12.

The FirstGroup subsidiary has not run any trains since January 9, when it entered a third period of hibernation in response to government-mandated restrictions on travel caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Unlike Train Operating Companies running under contract to government, Hull Trains and other open access operators have had no recourse to financial support beyond the furlough packages available to the wider business community.

Hull Trains Managing Director Louise Cheeseman

‘We are really pleased to be able to announce a return date and we’re looking forward to welcoming passengers safely on board from April’, Cheeseman said. ‘We are returning with a reduced timetable at this stage while we monitor customer demand and steadily build the business back up. Now we have a roadmap out of lockdown, I’m really confident that more people will start to travel by rail again.

‘It’s been a very challenging time for the industry and as an open access operator we have had to hibernate the business three times. This has impacted on our workforce and sadly, it was necessary to make 26% of colleagues redundant’, she added. ‘We have had to make other challenging cost saving decisions to protect the long-term future of the business and safeguard as many roles as possible. The focus of the last 12 months has been on making sure we have a strong foundation to return given that we will play a role in stabilising the region’s economy after the pandemic.’