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
Fleet size: 4 Class 180 Adelantes
Stations operated: 10
National Rail abbreviation: HT
Parent company: FirstGroup (80%)
Mike Jones (10%)
John Nelson (10%)
Route map
Route map
Hull Trains Route
Hull Paragon
London Kings Cross London Underground


Hull Trains[2] is an open access operator in England 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.


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 through their Renaissance Trains business, lodged an application to operate an open access service.[4] A joint venture was formed with GB Railways taking an 80% shareholding and Jones and Nelson each holding 10%.[5][6]

In December 1999, a four-year track access agreement was granted by the Office of Rail Regulation with operations commencing on 25 September 2000.[7][8][9] In September 2002, the access agreement was extended for ten years.[10]

In August 2003, GB Railway's shareholding was included in the sale of the business to FirstGroup.[11][12][13][14]

In June 2008, Hull Trains was rebranded as First Hull Trains, adopting FirstGroup's corporate blue, pink and white colours.[15] In January 2009, the access rights were extended until December 2014,[16] and in February 2010 was further extended until December 2016.[17] It has since been extended until December 2019.[18] In 2015, it resumed trading as Hull Trains.


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 are 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,[19] in May 2005 a sixth, and later a seventh.

On 4 February 2015, one service per weekday was extended from Hull to Beverley in each direction.[20]

Expansion proposals[edit]

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 to via Lincoln and Spalding.[21] In January 2009, the Office of Rail Regulation released its decisions on the ECML route planning and rejected First Harrogate Trains' application.[22]

Rolling stock[edit]

Class 180 interior

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.[23]

With the Strategic Rail Authority changing its policy on allowing Train Operating Company 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.[24][25][26]

The 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.[27][28] The Class 222 Pioneers entered service from May 2005.[29][30]

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.[31] 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 for weekend London King's Cross to Doncaster services.[32][33]

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.[34] Later in 2008 another two were leased to release the Class 222 Pioneers for transfer to East Midlands Trains in 2009.[35]

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 FirstGroup'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   Cars per set   Routes operated   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 180 Adelante 180110 at London Kings Cross (1).jpg diesel multiple unit 125 200 4 5 Hull/Beverley - London King's Cross 2000-2001

Future fleet[edit]

In September 2015, Hull Trains announced an order for 5 new electro-diesel high speed trains specified to have seating for 320 people and to reach a maximum speed of 140mph.[36]

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Cars per set   Routes   Built 
mph km/h
Class 800 Class 800 in testing 2015.jpg Bi-Mode Multiple Unit 140 225 5 5 or 9 Beverley/Hull - London King's Cross 2020

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.[37][38] 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 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. ^ "New operator plans London-Hull trains" Rail issue 357 19 May 1999 page 5
  5. ^ "Joint venture for London-Hull trains" Rail issue 365 8 September 1999 page 8
  6. ^ "Renaissance and GB Railways join to form Hull Trains Co" Railway Express issue 41 October 1999 page 7
  7. ^ "Hull Trains - Three services just the start" Rail issue 374 12 January 2000 page 5
  8. ^ "New link launched from Hull to London" Rail issue 392 20 September 2000 page 14
  9. ^ Happy 10th Birthday for Hull Trains Rail Express 23 September 2010
  10. ^ Ten Year Access Granted Hull Trains 18 June 2002
  11. ^ Hull Trains Company Limited Annual Accounts 2002
  12. ^ GB Rail Offer Unconditional FirstGroup 14 August 2003
  13. ^ "First Group buys GB for $22million" The Railway Magazine issue 1229 September 2003 page 10
  14. ^ "GB Railways is bought by First Group for £22 million" Railway Express issue 88 September 2003 page 8
  15. ^ The Pioneer Issue seven. First Hull Trains Magazine Spring 2008.
  16. ^ ORR announces its proposed decision on East Coast Main Line track access applications Office of Rail Regulation 29 January 2009
  17. ^ ORR Approves East Coast Main Line track access applications Office of Rail Regulation 11 February 2010
  18. ^ First Hull Trains records a record year and secures three year extension to run services until 2019 First Hull Trains 20 January 2015
  19. ^ "Hard Times" Rail issue 487 12 May 2004 page 35
  20. ^ MP delighted at new direct train service from Beverley to London First Hull Trains 3 February 2015
  21. ^ Hull Trains - Track Access Rights on the East coast Main Line Office of the Rail Regulator 19 March 2008
  22. ^ "Grand Northern set for Bradford" Rail issue 611 11 February 2009 page 20
  23. ^ "Hull Trains uses Anglia 86 on ECML after 170 failure" Rail Issue 428 6 February 2002 page 53
  24. ^ New Trains for Hull Trains As Company Announces Million Investment Hull Trains 20 September 2002
  25. ^ " Hull Trains buys 222s and 170s from Bombardier" Rail Issue 445 2 October 2002 page 9
  26. ^ "Hull Trains goes for Voyager-style units" The Railway Magazine issue 1219 November 2002 page 9
  27. ^ "Hull Trains Class 170s heading for Scotland" The Railway Magazine" issue 1244 page 64
  28. ^ "Hull Trains Class 170s now in Scotland" Rail Issue 516 22 June 2005 page 10
  29. ^ "Hull Trains' 125mph Pioneer starts East Coast service" Rail Issue 515 8 June 2012 page 8
  30. ^ "Hull Trains" The Railway Magazine" issue 1252 August 2005 page 95
  31. ^ "Hull Trains Pioneer damaged after liftng jack collapses" The Railway Magazine issue 1271 March 2007 page 11
  32. ^ "Hulls Trains presses 86101 into action" Rail Issue 576 10 October 2007 page 20
  33. ^ "Hull Trains replaces Class 86 with Class 180" The Railway Magazine issue 1286 June 2008 page 74
  34. ^ "Hull Trains takes delivery of first 180" Rail Issue 588 26 March 2008 page 62
  35. ^ "Hull Trains to go all Adelante" Railway Express issue 153 February 2009 page 4
  36. ^ "Hull rail firm to buy 140mph trains". BBC News (BBC). 3 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  37. ^ "Hull Trains to maintain Adelantes at Old Oak" Rail issue 639 10 March 2010 page 28
  38. ^ "Old Oak to maintain Adelantes" The Railway Magazine issue 1309 May 2010 page 81

External links[edit]