Northern power “Manc-centric” says Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce chief

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 3 Jul 2017

THE chief executive of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce has slammed TransPennine Express for what he says is a “Manchester-centric ” attitude to the planned Northern Powerhouse.

Ian Kelly wrote to the train operator claiming proposed changes to its Hull to Manchester service were “unacceptable”.

TransPennine is seeking consultation on the plans, which include the introduction of more stops on its Hull to Manchester service – a move Mr Kelly says would make the current service worse.

The train company has now offered to meet Mr Kelly in order to “dispel some myths”, however the Hull businessman says their response has been almost comical.

He said: “They have given me the opportunity to go to Manchester and meet with them, which just about sums up the problem we have.

They want me to go there, to speak to them about why they are making services for people in Hull worse.

“Hull is the bottom of their priority list. They are Manchester-centric, and their priorities are focused on Manchester and surrounding cities such as Leeds.

“I could accept their offer, though I worry I would not be able to find a train that could actually get me there in a timely fashion.”

In his letter to TransPennine’s managing director, Leo Goodwin, Mr Kelly urged a rethink over what he perceives to be a “downg rading” of the current service.

He said: “The proposals set out by TransPennine Express effectively worsen, not improve the current service, and we feel this is unacceptable at a time when rail links between the largest cities in the Northern Powerhouse of the country should be improved, and not effectively downgraded.

“At a time when Hull has increased its national profile as a result of its year as UK City of Culture, which has, in turn, seen a boost in both tourism and business travel, we feel strongly that nothing should happen which could undermine this growth.

“The current timetable document is very vague with little detail about Sunday and evening services.

The Chamber is therefore disappointed at the proposal to increase the number of stops on the Hull service to 10 intermediate stations as this represents a significant downgrading of what was a ‘fast’ service that originally only stopped at Brough, Selby, Leeds and Huddersfield.”

A spokeswoman for TransPennine Express said it is seeking a meeting with Mr Kelly in order to clarify what they felt were misunderstandings about the proposals.

She said: “From May 2018, we will introduce a range of service improvements across our network, including new destinations and service frequency.

We are currently investing £1.4m in Hull Paragon Interchange. It is clear from the letter sent by the Chamber that they have misunderstood some of the developments and outputs of this timetable and we will meet with them to clarify the process.

We are working with local stakeholders to develop these plans.”

Mr Kelly said: “TransPennine might well ferret around the details, and say the proposed changes will only add two minutes on to journey times, but by doing so they are shying away from the bigger picture.

Virtually every other Northern conurbation will have a more frequent and faster service with new rolling stock to Leeds and the North West. This could significantly disadvantage Hull and East Yorkshire.” 

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