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First Hull Trains

Franchise(s):Open-access operator
Not subject to franchising
Main route(s):London - Hull
Other route(s):None
Fleet size:4 Class 180 Adelante sets[1]
Stations called at:9
National Rail abbreviation:HT
Parent company:First Group / Renaissance Trains
First Hull Trains route map
Hull Paragon
Stevenage ^
London Kings Cross Underground no-text.svg

^ Pick up northbound,
set down southbound;
selected weekday services only

  • Note: No First Hull Trains services stop at Peterborough.
File:Hull trains logo.png

Hull Trains logo (2002-2008)

First Hull Trains is a train operating company in the United Kingdom, running up to seven long distance services each day between London King's Cross and Hull. The company also serves the towns of Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden and Brough. It is jointly owned by First Group (80%) following the buyout of its previous parent company GB Railways, and Renaissance Trains (20%).[2]

First Hull Trains is one of the three ‘open access’ rail operators in the UK meaning that instead of owning a franchise and operating a level of service laid down by the Strategic Rail Authority, it applied for, and was awarded in 2002, access rights for 10 years by the Office of the Rail Regulator.[3] This was extended to December 2014 in January 2009,[4] and in March 2009 was further extended to 2016.[5]

Service Levels[]

In 2000 when First Hull Trains first began to operate they ran 3 return services a day using Class 170 Turbostars. With the Introduction of the Class 222 Pioneers the service levels had increased to 6 return services a day by 2006. By 2008 this number had increased to 7 return services a day using faster and better equipped Class 222 Pioneers. In 2009 Hull Trains is campaigning to increase this number yet further to 8 services a day to provide a regular 2 hourly pattern, using Class 180s.

In 2009 Hull East MP, John Prescott, launched a scathing attack on Hull Trains following a period of dire performance. Speaking from London Kings Cross Prescott stated "the trains are cancelled or delayed, there's no hot or cold food, the toilets don't work".


The latest performance figures for First Hull Trains to be released by the ORR as of the third quarter of the financial year 2009/10 are 87.3% PPM and 81.5% MAA.[6] These figures are up on those of last quarter and the last 12 months respectively.

2008 rebranding[]

In June 2008 Hull Trains was rebranded from Hull Trains to First Hull Trains. This was a move by First Group to bring Hull Trains in line with its other rail companies. Staff were given First Group uniforms and rolling stock has gained First Group livery.[7]

Possible future expansion[]

In 2008, First Hull Trains revealed that they were applying for track access rights to run services between Harrogate and London via York called First Harrogate Trains,[8] and from Cleethorpes to London via Lincoln and Spalding.[9]

In January 2009, the ORR released some decisions on the ECML route planning and TOCS. The application for First Harrogate Trains on the plan was rejected, and the plan is no longer being spearheaded.

The driving force behind the business for a long time was their first Managing Director, Mark Leving, who started on the railway in 2003[10] in a frontline job under British Rail. FirstGroup replaced Leving in early 2010 with James Adeyishan who came from National Car Parks and latterly, the failing transport firm National Express. Leving has now left FirstGroup to work for the rail watchdog Passenger Focus.[citation needed]

First Hull Trains hope to soon achieve a regular two hourly service from Hull to Kings Cross. This would provide benefits to commuters and pleasure travellers alike with the added benefits of earlier and later arrivals and departures from both London and Hull.[11]

Rolling stock[]

File:Hull Trains trial route map.png

Geographical representation of the Hull Trains route

File:222102 A KGX.JPG

Bombardier Class 222 Pioneer No. 222102 at London Kings Cross.

First Hull Trains currently operate four Class 180 Adelante diesel multiple units. Previously the service was operated by a fleet of 100 mph Class 170/3 Turbostar sets and Class 222/1 Pioneer sets.

Class 170/3 'Turbostar'[]

When First Hull Trains began operating in 2000, it originally used Class 170/3 Turbostar units that it shared with Anglia Railways. These units would be swapped on a regular basis so many different units were used. In 2004, the Strategic Rail Authority changed leasing rules and First Hull Trains were forced to procure their own rolling stock. An order for new units was added onto an existing order Class 170/3 units for First ScotRail, and four brand new Class 170/3 units was delivered to First Hull Trains. Almost immediately, the new units had a severe lack of capacity and the units were soon transferred to First ScotRail to help bolster its services.

Class 222/1 'Pioneer'[]

In 2005, First Hull Trains introduced new Class 222/1 Pioneer trains onto its services. These trains had the added benefit on an extra carriage and a higher speed (125mph) over the previous trains. This allowed First Hull Trains to add more services to the company. Each train was named after a 'modern-day pioneer' related to Hull, hence the term Pioneer to refer to the units. In 2007, an accident involving 222103 caused severe damage to two vehicles in the train, deeming that train out of action. At this point, First Hull Trains started to use cover trains to help with the loss of 222103, and eventually First Hull Trains started to replace the Pioneer units.

Currently, the Class 222/1 Pioneer units have been redeployed with East Midlands Trains on the Midland Main Line.

Class 180 'Adelantes'[]

In 2008, First Hull Trains began to replace its fleet with Class 180 Adelante units. These were in service with First Great Western, until they were taken on by First Hull Trains. Again, 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 employed technicians who had previously worked on the units for First Great Western, and reliability improved dramatically.

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 unites have been re-branded with the standard First Group 'neon' livery and First Hull Trains branding.

Maintenance of the 180 is undertaken Old Oak Common. However, 2 of the 4 sets are stabled at Hull each night where they are washed, fuelled, CET, cleaned and watered. For part of the month when a set is not being examined at Old Oak, a third set is usually spare at Hull. Hull Trains use Northern Rail facilities at Botanic Gardens and there are usually 2 fitters on an night to undertake basic fault repair, diagnostics and routine maintenance. A day fitter is based at Hull during the daytime. This is in stark contrast to when previously much of this work was undertaken at Crofton by Bombardier and there was only ever 1 set left in Hull each night.

Current fleet[]

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 180 Adelante File:Alstom Class 180 Adelante 180113 A A KGX.JPG diesel multiple unit 125 200 4 London King's Cross - Hull 2001

Past fleet[]

 Class   Image   Type   Built   Number   Withdrawn   Notes 
Class 170 Turbostar File:Hull Trains 170.jpg diesel multiple unit 1998–2005 3 2004 Replaced by Class 222 Pioneer
Class 222 Pioneer File:222104 at Kings Cross 3.jpg diesel multiple unit 2005 4 2009 Replaced by Class 180 Adelante
Class 86 File:86101 Hull Trains 1.jpg Electric locomotive 1965–1966 1 2008
Mark 3 Coach File:Mk3 Hull Trains 3.jpg Passenger Coach 1975–1988 5 2008
File:82115 DVT Hull Trains 2.jpg Driving Van Trailer 1988 1 2008


External links[]

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