FirstGroupâ€™s application for the extension of track on its First Hull Trains operation has been approved by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for a further 10 years.
The ORR has approved a ten-year extension of First Hull Trains track access until 2029. The open access operator has pledged to purchase new bi-mode trains which will take advantage of the benefits of the electrified East Coast Mainline. First Hull Trains has also promised an additional half a million pound investment to enhance its current fleet.
â€œWeâ€™re pleased that the ORR has granted us a further ten year period of operationâ€
Commenting, Steve Montgomery, FirstGroupâ€™s Rail Division Managing Director, said: â€œFirst Hull Trains is a great success story and its enduring high customer satisfaction scores really demonstrate how open access can deliver for passengers in certain markets. Weâ€™re pleased that the ORR has granted us a further ten year period of operation as it allows us to progress the plans that we have for new rolling stock and investment in the line, allowing Hull to play its part as a key region in the Governmentâ€™s Northern Powerhouse proposals.â€
First Hull Trains to purchase new bi-mode trains and enhance current fleet
Will Dunnett, Managing Director of First Hull Trains, said: â€œThe approval of a ten year track access enables us to deliver our longer term plans, including new bi-mode trains that will be faster than those we operate today. We will also be able to increase our fleet to five units with more seats on each, meaning a 50% increase in the number of seats for passengers. The ORRâ€™s approval of our track access until 2029 secures the long term future of First Hull Trains, whilst at the same time safeguards and enhances the regionâ€™s rail connectivity to the capital.
â€œThese are exciting times for our business and our region as we move towards UK City of Culture status in 2017. Our current trains have served us well and we intend to continue to invest in these units for the next three years. We have just commissioned a project to refurbish our on-board service facilities for the enhanced comfort of our passengers as well as looking at ways to increase the capacity of our current services. We will also be rolling out Passenger Information Screens on all services as well as on-board CCTV to enhance security and peace of mind for our customers.â€
Last year, First Hull Trains became the first operator in the UK to install Passenger Information Screens fed by live real-time train running information, as part of an industry trial to improve on-board passenger information services. The screens on selected carriages give passengers up-to-the-minute information on connecting services and stations.
FirstGroup is also involved in a separate application to the ORR on new open access plans to operate five trains throughout the day each way between London Kingâ€™s Cross and Edinburgh, designed to compete with low-cost airlines and open up rail travel between the two capitals to thousands of new passengers. The outcome of the application is due later this year.