Hull Trains: On the horizon

Source: RTM June/July 2018

The last 18 years of Hull Trains services have been great, but the future – with its brand-new fleet, better customer service and increased investment – will be even better, says Louise Cheeseman, its new managing director.

Hull Trains, a leading open access train operating company which has regularly ranked at the top of the UK railways’ customer service league tables, has announced big plans for 2019.

Five new, state-of-the-art trains will replace Hull Trains’ current rolling stock as part of a major £60m investment. Hull Trains is replacing its current fleet of Class 180s with the new hi-tech Class 802 – which is a bi-mode multiple unit train currently being built by Hitachi Rail Europe, based on the company’s A-train.

Ultimately, customers will benefit from more seating capacity, enhanced interiors and faster speeds to transform travel between Hull and London.

On top of this, customers will still be able to enjoy complimentary 4G wi-fi for the entire journey whether travelling in Standard or First Class coaches – we are currently the only train operator on the East Coast Main Line to offer this free service.

New trains on track for 2019

Hitachi is making great progress on the five new trains, with the fleet still on track for delivery next summer and entering service in December 2019. Hull Trains has had significant input into designing the new fleet, with decisions on features that will make a real difference to customers.

The investment in these new trains highlights Hull Trains’ commitment to high levels of customer service – something which we obsess on from the service our team provides, through to the facilities experienced by everyone who travels with us.

We want every single experience of Hull Trains to be a positive one, and the new fleet will further enhance journeys for all who use our services.

We are designing these new trains with our customers in mind, enabling us to provide facilities that will ensure every traveller receives a unique service experience above and beyond what they might expect from a train operating company. Combined with our usual outstanding service delivery, we know this will be a very popular and winning formula.

Hull Trains leader has come home

I am currently tasked with leading the Hull Trains team as they gear up for the upcoming changes. I’ve held a number of senior rail positions in the past, most recently director of service delivery at RAPT Metrolink in Manchester, where I led a team responsible for increasing the network by 30%.

In 2012, I also had full responsibility for managing trains operations on the DLR during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, delivering the most successful transport infrastructure in the history of the Games.

Hull Trains, formed in 2000 to plug gaps in the Hull to London timetable, has been a huge success story – today we operate more than 90 services a week between Yorkshire and the capital.

Our customers are at the forefront of everything we do. We are a small company that’s about getting stuck in, not being stuck behind a desk. Our leadership team is regularly seen travelling on our trains, talking with customers and listening to their comments so that we can continually improve. 

I started my career in Hull and recall my journeys back from working in London with great affection – as soon as I boarded the trains emblazoned with the city’s name and I heard that distinctive accent over the public-address system, I felt like I was already home.


Leading into a new age

Alongside the new investment the company has made in the new rolling stock, Hull Trains has made a number of important appointments as part of our commitment to innovating and adding value to customers.

Khalid Amin, who has previously worked at SuperBreak and British Airways, has been appointed as head of digital to add further insight to Hull Trains’ app and website. Digital tools and apps are an important part of our customers’ experience. We’re looking at how customers use the website and the app and utilising the feedback they give us to make their journeys even better.

Although we recognise that finding the best value fares is merely one part of a customer’s journey, we want to continue to be an innovative leader in the rail industry that provides the best levels of customer service at every touchpoint – and the digital component, mixed with excellent direct contact with our highly trained people, is a vital part of that.

Steve Pugh has also been appointed as driver manager. He is a highly experienced and well-known operator in the rail industry, having started work with British Rail back in 1979.

Pugh’s appointment is a real coup for Hull Trains – it enables our drivers to have access to information from a leader who has huge levels of experience of safe operations in the rail industry.

Investment comes as the railways modernise

The customer-centric ethos of Hull Trains is such that it will focus on continually innovating and making a difference to the people it serves.

The demand for our services is such that the new fleet, with its additional capacity of 327 more seats, will provide a huge added boost for customers – giving them faster access to the capital than before, at higher top speeds of 225km/h.

There will also be more First Class seats available for what is a successful and growing business market. Since Hull Trains launched in 2000, it has seen continual growth in demand for First Class tickets, with may trains fully pre-booked Monday to Friday.

The technology involved will also mean that Hull Trains can continue to run trains where overhead wires have been damaged and have affected services in the past.

In terms of progress made so far on the development of the new trains, we’ve reached the end of the engineering and design phase and have now completed final sign-off for production.

Decisions have now been made on the new interiors, which will be brighter and much more spacious and streamlined. Our industry partners have also commented on how luxurious and aesthetically-appealing the interiors are, so we are very excited to show this to our customers in due course.

The next phase is to focus on our people and commence the relevant training plans in readiness for the launch of the trains now that the engineering plans and processes have been finalised.

All in all, a very exciting future is taking shape for Hull Trains. The last 18 years for our loyal customers has been great, and the future promises to be superb.


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