Hull Trains

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Hull Trains
180113 at Peterborough.jpg
Franchise(s): Open-access operator
Not subject to franchising
25 September 2000 - December 2019
Main route(s): Hull - London
Other route(s): Beverley - London
Fleet size: 4 Class 180 Adelantes
Stations called at: 10
Stations operated: 0
National Rail abbreviation: HT
Parent company: FirstGroup
Web site:
Route map
Route map
First Hull Trains Route
Hull Paragon
London Kings Cross London Underground


Hull Trains logo (2002-2008)

Hull Trains[2] (known as First Hull Trains as of 2008) is an open-access operator in the United Kingdom owned by FirstGroup and two former British Rail managers.[3] It operates long-distance services between Hull/Beverley and London King's Cross. It has a track-access agreement until December 2019.


Previously there had been only one through train per day each way between Hull and London. The idea of running more frequent through trains on the route was conceived by former British Rail managers, Mike Jones and John Nelson, through their Renaissance Trains business. Each took a 10% shareholding in Hull Trains with GB Railways the remaining 80%. This structure remains in place, albeit with First having acquired GB Railways' share when it purchased the company in August 2003.[4][5]

In 2002 Hull Trains was granted a four-year track-access agreement by the Office of Rail Regulation, and operations started on 25 September 2000.[6] In September 2002 it was awarded access rights for ten years.[7] In June 2008 Hull Trains was rebranded as First Hull Trains, adopting First's corporate blue, pink and white colours.[8] In January 2009 the access rights were extended to December 2014,[9] and in February 2010 was further extended to December 2016.[10] It has since been extended until December 2019.[11]


First Hull Trains operates up to six daily return services between Hull and London King's Cross on weekdays and a daily weekday service between Beverley and Kings Cross. On weekends there is seven daily services between Hull and Kings 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,[12] in May 2005 a sixth, and later a seventh.

On 4 February 2015, one weekday service was extended from Hull to Beverley in each direction.[13]


Official performance figures for First Hull Trains released by the ORR for the second quarter of the financial year 2010/11 are 83.6% PPM and 85.9% MAA.[14] These figures are both up on those of last quarter and the last twelve months respectively.

In July 2011 First Hull Trains was recognised as one of the highest-rated rail operators in the UK, with 95% of passengers rating the service good. However, in the same month the company was plagued with yet more Class 180 problems, forcing it to run a much-reduced timetable and make a public apology.[15]

In February 2015 First Hull Trains again achieved one of the highest scores in Which? magazine's Best and worst UK train companies survey, with a 69% customer satisfaction score. This was beaten only by Grand Central Railway (with a 76% customer score). First Hull Trains was also awarded two 5/5 star ratings (in the Reliability and Punctuality categories), the only UK train operator to achieve a 5/5 star rating. First Hull Trains also scored 4/5 stars in the remaining four categories.[16]

Expansion proposals[edit]

In 2008 First Hull Trains revealed that it was applying 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 to via Lincoln and Spalding.[17] In January 2009, the Office of Rail Regulation released its decisions on the ECML route planning and rejected First Harrogate Trains' application.

Rolling stock[edit]

A Hull Trains Class 180 interior
Bombardier Class 222 Pioneer 222102 at London King's Cross

Hull Trains commenced operations with three-carriage Class 170 Turbostars hired from sister GB Railways company Anglia Railways. There was at least one occasion of an Anglia Railways Class 86 and Mark 2 set operating as far as Doncaster.[18]

With the Strategic Rail Authority changing its policy on allowing TOC assets to be hired out, Hull Trains needed to acquire its own fleet. It ordered four three-carriage Class 170 Turbostars the first entering service in March 2004. These were only intended as an interim solution as four four-carriage 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.[19][20]

Hull Trains Class 170 Turbostars entered service in April 2004. It was planned that after being replaced, they would then be used on new services, but this didn't eventuate so they were transferred to First ScotRail.[21] The Class 222 Pioneers entered service from May 2005.[22]

In January 2007 a Class 222 Pioneer was damaged when it was dropped off a maintenance jack and would ultimately take two years to repair. After making do with only three trains, in early 2008 a Class 86 was hired from the AC Locomotive Group to haul a set of Mark 3s hired from Cargo-D on weekend King's Cross to Doncaster services.[23]

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.[24] Later in 2008 another two were leased to release the Class 222 Pioneers for transfer to East Midlands Trains in 2009.[25]

These trains helped First Hull Trains gain more capacity by an extra carriage, however when the units first arrived, they were plagued by technical difficulties, and a string of poor reliability for the company soon followed. However, First Hull Trains has improved reliability dramatically since 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 First Group's neon blue livery.

In the Class 180s, Coach A is the quiet coach where mobile phones and personal music devices are not allowed, 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.

Current fleet[edit]

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 180 Adelante 180110 at London Kings Cross (1).jpg diesel multiple unit 125 200 4 Hull/Beverley - London King's Cross 2000-2001

Past fleet[edit]

Class Image Type Built Number Withdrawn Notes
Class 170 Turbostar Hull Trains 170.jpg diesel multiple unit 1999–2004 4 2005 Replaced by Class 222 Pioneer and transferred to First ScotRail
Class 222 Pioneer 222104 at Kings Cross 3.jpg diesel multiple unit 2005 4 2009 Replaced by Class 180 Adelante. Class 222s transferred to East Midlands Trains, locomotive hauled stock stored.
Class 86 86101 Hull Trains 1.jpg Electric locomotive 1965–1966 1 2008
Mark 3 Carriage Mk3 Hull Trains 3.jpg Passenger Carriage 1975–1988 5 2008
82115 DVT Hull Trains 2.jpg Driving Van Trailer 1988 1 2008


Maintenance of the Class 180 Adelantes is undertaken at Old Oak Common Depot alongside First Great Western's fleet. Two sets (or occasionally three if there are no sets on maintenance) are stabled and serviced each night in Hull sidings by FHT staff (where there are usually two fitters on at night to undertake basic fault repair and diagnostics) with fuelling and CET being undertaken at Northern Rail'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. Previously 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. ^ FirstGroup Annual Report 31 March 2012
  4. ^ Hull Trains Company Limited Annual Accounts 2002
  5. ^ GB "Rail Offer Unconditional" (Press release). FirstGroup. 14 August 2003. 
  6. ^ "Happy 10th Birthday for Hull Trains". Rail Express. 23 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Ten Year Access Granted" (Press release). Hull Trains. 18 June 2002. Archived from the original on 7 February 2003. 
  8. ^ The Pioneer Issue seven. First Hull Trains Magazine Spring 2008.
  9. ^ "ORR announces its proposed decision on East Coast Main Line track access applications" (Press release). Office of Rail Regulation. 29 January 2009. 
  10. ^ "ORR Approves East Coast Main Line track access applications" (Press release). Office of Rail Regulation. 11 February 2010. 
  11. ^ [2] First Hull Trains records a record year and secures three year extension to run services until 2019] First Hull Trains 20 January 2015
  12. ^ Rail Magazine (487): 35. 12 May 2004.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ MP delighted at new direct train service from Beverley to London First Hull Trains 3 February 2015
  14. ^ "National Rail Trends Chapter 2" (PDF). ORR. 
  15. ^ "Hull Trains chief apologises for disruption". BBC News. 20 July 2011. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Hull Trains - Track Access Rights on the East coast Main Line Office of the Rail Regulator, 19 March 2008.
  18. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 428 6 February 2002 Page 53
  19. ^ New Trains for Hull Trains As Company Announces Million Investment Hull Trains Press Release 20 September 2002
  20. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 445 2 October 2002 Page 9
  21. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 516 22 June 2005 Page 10
  22. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 515 8 June 2012 Page 8
  23. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 576 10 October 2007 Page 20
  24. ^ Rail Magazine Issue 588 26 March 2008 Page 62
  25. ^ "What future for Hull Trains Class 222 'Pioneers'" (PDF). Railway Herald (128). 25 April 2008. ISSN 1751-8091. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 June 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2008. 

External links[edit]