Louise Cheeseman, managing director of Hull Trains, describes how a new fleet of rolling stock looks set to revolutionise the operator and their service.
For Hull Trains, 2019 marks what will be our most exciting year since we launched some 19 years ago. We’ve invested £60m to replace our entire current fleet of Class 180 trains with new Class 802s and they will all be rolled into passenger service by the end of this year.
These trains will not only revolutionise Hull Trains as a business, but will also revolutionise train travel along the East Coast Main Line between Hull and London for our customers.
For our staff and our customers, these trains cannot come quick enough and having been in the pipeline since we signed the contract in October 2016. We are now on the final countdown to receiving them.
It’s no secret Hull Trains has faced difficulties with our current ageing fleet. Having only four trains has seen us struggle with disruption when one of our trains breaks down because we always have one train in routine maintenance.
Those problems will be a thing of the past though when our new trains enter service - they will be so much more reliable - and I fully anticipate we will be the best train operating company in the UK when we have our full new fleet of five trains.
I can understand why some of our customers have fallen out of love with us when we’ve had periods of disruptions, but we are now in a better position than we were this time last year, and we are so close to seeing our new trains on the tracks.
Our customers deserve the best and that is what they have been promised. It will be my pleasure for Hull Trains to be able to provide that for them.
Our new trains will be among the most fast and modern trains on the UK network and we are now counting down the days until the first train arrives in the UK during the first week in September.
I’ve just returned from Italy and was able to visit the Hitachi factory and see for myself our first train which is almost complete.
The visit gave us a really good idea of what the trains will look and feel like. The first train is well on its way to completion and it was great to meet the team who are working on them. Our trains are very different to what have been produced before in terms of the colours and interiors, so the team are excited to work on them.
The quality of work is excellent and they are bang on time, which is really important and good news for everyone.
To be able to sit in the seats and walk down the aisle of a carriage gave me both an amazing sense of pride and awe. I can’t wait for passengers to experience it.
The first two trains to be completed will be coupled up and brought to the UK together – anticipated to be during the first week in September.
Once the trains arrive in the UK, there’s an incredible amount of work to be done before passengers can step foot on them, with the final modifications, test runs, and staff training, but my team are more keen than anyone to see the rollout of these new trains and are only too happy to work tirelessly to get these trains into service.
Behind the scenes, staff training is already well underway, with our drivers and onboard staff receiving hands-on experience in various training programmes.
Anticipation is already building with our customers and we’ve shared as much about the new trains with our passengers as we possibly can. We will next reveal the fleet name.
Customers know the new trains will be more reliable and comfortable, have more seats, better storage, and provide a smoother, faster journey, with greener travel and a tastier menu.
Everything about these new trains will be better than what we currently have and will keep our 92 direct services between Hull and London the first choice for passengers.