Hull Trains

Hull Trains

180113 at Peterborough in May 2011
Franchise(s): Open access operator
Not subject to franchising
25 September 2000 - December 2029
Main (s): Hull and Selby Railway
East Coast Main Line
Fleet size: 4 Class 180 Adelantes
National Rail abbreviation: HT
Parent company: FirstGroup
Route map

Hull Trains Route

Hull Paragon
London King's Cross London Underground


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 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][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 operates up to six daily return services between Hull and London King's Cross on weekdays and a daily service between Beverley and Kings Cross. On weekends there are five 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, 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]

Expansion proposals

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.[28][29][30] In January 2009, the Office of Rail Regulation released its decisions on the ECML route planning and rejected First Harrogate Trains' application.[31]

Rolling stock

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 occasion of an Anglia Railways Class 86 and Mark 2 set operating as far as Doncaster.[32][33]

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.[34] 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.[35][36][37][38]

The Class 170 Turbostars entered service in March 2004.[34] 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.[39][40] The Class 222 Pioneers entered service from May 2005.[41][42]

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.[43][44] 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.[45][46][47]

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.[48] Later in 2008 another two were leased to release the Class 222 Pioneers for transfer to East Midlands Trains in 2009.[49][50]

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 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

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Carriages   Routes operated   Built 
 mph   km/h 
Class 180 Adelante diesel multiple unit 125 200 4 5 Hull/Beverley - London King's Cross 2000-2001

Future fleet

In September 2015, Hull Trains announced an order for five new 5-car bi-mode high-speed trains from Hitachi, with seating for 320 people and a maximum speed of 140mph.[51] In its proposed track access application, Hull Trains confirmed that these would be Class 802s.[52]

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

    Past fleet

    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 diesel multiple unit 2005 4 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 2008
    Driving Van Trailer 1988 1 2008


    Maintenance of the Class 180 Adelantes is undertaken at Old Oak Common Depot alongside Great Western Railway's fleet.[53][54] 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. Previously much of this work was undertaken by Bombardier at Crofton and only one set left in Hull each night.


    1. Companies House extract company no 3715410 Hull Trains Company Limited
    2. FirstGroup plc Annual Report 2015
    3. "New operator plans London-Hull trains" Rail Magazine issue 357 19 May 1999 page 5
    4. "Joint venture for London-Hull trains" Rail Magazine issue 365 8 September 1999 page 8
    5. "GB buys into Hull Trains" Rail Business Intelligence issue 111 30 September 1999 page 5
    6. "Renaissance and GB Railways join to form Hull Trains Co" Rail Express issue 41 October 1999 page 7
    7. "Hull Trains - Three services just the start" Rail Magazine issue 374 12 January 2000 page 5
    8. "New link launched from Hull to London" Rail Magazine 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" Rail 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. "First Hull Trains track access extended until 2029". European Railway Review. 23 March 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
    20. "Electrification delays force Hull Trains to go bi-mode" Railway Magazine issue 781 19 August 2015 page 14
    21. "Hull Trains plans bi-mode fleet" Modern Railways issue 804 September 2015 page 9
    22. "Hull Trains starts fifth London train" Rail Magazine issue 486 28 April 2004 page 13
    23. "Six trans a day for HT" Rail Magazine issue 515 8 June 2005 page 13
    24. MP delighted at new direct train service from Beverley to London First Hull Trains 3 February 2015
    25. "Hull Trains proposes weekends to Beverley" Rail Magazine issue issue 785 14 October 2015 page 11
    26. Hull Trains launches direct weekend rail link from Beverley to London Hull Daily Mail 5 December 2015
    27. Hull Trains - Track Access Rights on the East coast Main Line Office of the Rail Regulator 19 March 2008
    28. "Three companies want East Coast paths" Today's Railways issue 78 June 2008 page 6
    29. "Hull Trains applies to serve Harrogate four times a day" Rail Magazine issue 594 18 June 2008 page 12
    30. "Grand Northern set for Bradford" Rail Magazine issue 611 11 February 2009 page 20
    31. "Hull Trains uses Anglia 86 on ECML after 170 failure" Rail Magazine issue 428 6 February 2002 page 53
    32. "GB Rail runs Class 86 and push-pull set on ECML" The Railway Magazine issue 1211 March 2002 page 33
    33. 1 2 "Hull Trains takes 170s" Rail Magazine issue 485 14 April 2004 page 29
    34. "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.
    35. " Hull Trains buys 222s and 170s from Bombardier" Rail Magazine issue 445 2 October 2002 page 9
    36. "Hull Trains goes for Voyager-style units" The Railway Magazine issue 1219 November 2002 page 9
    37. "New trains for Hull Trains" Entrain issue 11 November 2002 page 15
    38. "Hull Trains Class 170s heading for Scotland" The Railway Magazine issue 1244 page 64
    39. "Hull Trains Class 170s now in Scotland" Rail Magazine issue 516 22 June 2005 page 10
    40. "Hull Trains' 125mph Pioneer starts East Coast service" Rail Magazine issue 515 8 June 2012 page 8
    41. "Hull Trains" The Railway Magazine" issue 1252 August 2005 page 95
    42. "Hull Trains short of stock as unit falls from jacks" Rail Magazine issue 558 31 January 2007 page 15
    43. "Hull Trains Pioneer damaged after liftng jack collapses" The Railway Magazine issue 1271 March 2007 page 11
    44. "Hull Trains presses 86101 into action" Rail Magazine issue 576 10 October 2007 page 20
    45. "Preserved 86 enters service with Hull Trains" Railway Magazine issue 584 30 January 2008 page 11
    46. "Hull Trains replaces Class 86 with Class 180" The Railway Magazine issue 1286 June 2008 page 74
    47. "Hull Trains takes delivery of first 180" Rail Magazine issue 588 26 March 2008 page 62
    48. "Hull Trains to go all Adelante" Rail Express issue 153 February 2009 page 4
    49. "222/1s for EMT" Today's Railways issue 86 February 2009 page 57
    50. "Hull rail firm to buy 140mph trains". BBC News. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
    51. "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. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
    52. "Hull Trains to maintain Adelantes at Old Oak" Rail Magazine issue 639 10 March 2010 page 28
    53. "Old Oak to maintain Adelantes" The Railway Magazine issue 1309 May 2010 page 81

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