Open Access Rail Operator, Hull Trains, announced the launch of a report by the specialist consultancy Arup into the economic benefits that its services have brought to the region, at a key stakeholder event held at Hull Truck Theatre on Wednesday 7 February 2024.
The new report investigates the impact of Hull Trains’ Open Access services, with particular reference to the economic, social and sustainability benefits gained by the wider Hull and Humber region. It also offers an insight into the ways in which the operator has delivered benefits above and beyond what would have been achieved through the traditional rail system model.
Martijn Gilbert, Managing Director of Hull Trains, outlined: “Time and again we have seen that Open Access rail services have transformed transport connectivity, helping drive economic growth and improve social mobility. Basing services like ours in their home market also drives employment and skills development opportunities.
“This ground-breaking report by Arup provides clear evidence and an independent account of the benefits that Hull Trains has brought to the region and also charts our industry leading credentials in many key areas. We can clearly see the evidence of the growth in customer journeys, operational performance and the value of being a good employer bringing new jobs to our home city of Hull.
“This is real levelling up of a northern city, and it’s thanks to the entrepreneurial approach of the Open Access rail model, which delivers at no cost or risk to the taxpayer. As a result, we are able to keep our services efficient and offer great value fares and greener journeys to customers.”
Since its launch in 2000, Hull Trains is estimated to have delivered £185m-380m of monetised benefits. Taking into account forecasts for the next ten years, those figures are estimated to grow to a total economic benefits delivery of £325m-700m, from launch through to 2032 in line with the operator’s current track access agreement
Prior to Hull Trains commencing operations in 2000, there was one direct train per day in each direction between Hull and London. The new report highlights how that frequency has been increased to seven trains per day, thanks to the entrepreneurial approach and local focus of the operator’s model.
Extra capacity has been introduced with some trains being extended to 10-carriages from December 2021, alongside additional Sunday services. Seating capacity on rolling stock is now more than double what it was at the launch of the service in 2000, with overall capacity reported at a 500% increase.
Through encouraging modal shift away from road vehicles, rail is delivering environmental benefits, bringing about reductions to emissions of carbon, as well as other pollutants that affect air quality.
The report outlines that passenger demand is now actually higher than pre-Covid levels from 2019. A particularly notable example of Hull Trains’ Open Access success is the level of growth at Howden station, where trips to and from London have grown from a very low base to over 16,000 a year today, primarily driven by modal shift from car.
The report also looks at the GVA impact through direct employment between 2000 and 2022. These suggest that the economic impact associated with employment at Hull Trains has been worth a total of £35m-70m (in 2023 prices) during the period since launch of services.
Overall, the report demonstrates sizeable economic, social and sustainability benefits, all linked to the growth of the Hull Train’s Open Access services, which is further backed up by consistent stakeholder praise and comments. The report also outlines that Hull Trains has won numerous awards and entered into several partnerships with local organisations. These reflect the company’s strong commitment to the region and its ability to benefit the community.
Hull Trains is part of FirstGroup, the leading rail operator and largest open access rail provider in the country, with more open access rail businesses than any other. As well as Hull Trains, FirstGroup runs Lumo which offers low-cost and fully electric rail service between London and Edinburgh, and also runs Heathrow Express on behalf of Heathrow Airport. Building on FirstGroup’s extensive experience and commitment to the open access sector, Hull Trains has also recently applied to run a new service between London and Sheffield via Worksop.
The full report is available to read and download from: www.hulltrains.co.uk/arup
Visit the Hull Trains website for more information: www.hulltrains.co.uk