An ambitious plan to privately finance the electrification of around 70 miles of track between Hull and Selby is being pursued by First Hull Trains.
The open-access operator is in talks with private sector investors, infrastructure firm Amey and Network Rail, and expects to start discussions soon with the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and the Department for Transport (DfT) over plans to electrify the route from the city to Temple Hirst junction.
The scheme is currently outside Network Rail’s own immediate electrification plans but could become an integral part of First Hull Trains ambitions to extend its current licence which expires in December 2016. The project is expected to cost between £60-80m. First Hull Trains employs more than 100 people, mainly from across the city and surrounding East Yorkshire.
Says Richard Parry, the company’s interim managing director (above), ‘This is a company founded in the city and one which is cherished and valued by the people of Hull and the surrounding area. The electrification plans are still at the development stage but we are working closely with all key stakeholders to make our vision for the route a reality.’
First Hull Trains – a joint venture between FirstGroup with minority shareholders and Hull Trains founders Renaissance Trains – is looking to extend its licence by at least 10 years, with 20 years as the ultimate goal. The operator currently runs 90 services a week between Hull and London King’s Cross, stopping at Brough, Howden, Selby, Doncaster, Retford and Grantham.
Electrification would allow First Hull Trains to replace its Class 180 diesel trains with new rolling stock which would improve reliability and reduce costs.
Richard Parry added: “We are looking to secure the long term future of First Hull Trains for the staff and for the people and businesses in Hull and on the route. The licence runs out in less than four years which is a short time in our industry. We are working hard with all our partners to create a sustainable future for the business, our staff and our customers. Since we started in 2001 we have increased passenger numbers ten-fold, carrying almost 800,000 people in 2012.’