Following the announcement by Hull Trains that it is suspending services during the November lockdown - and rumours that Grand Central is considering the same - transport union TSSA has called for the two open access operators to be taken over by publicly-owned LNER.
Hull Trains announced in a Tweet on Monday afternoon that “as a result of the lockdown” services would be suspended from 00:01 Thursday “until further notice”.
Hull Trains and Grand Central are what are known as ‘open access operators’ and fall outside of franchising or municipal models. TSSA argues there is little room for such operators and that the railway should instead be united under public ownership.
LNER (London North Eastern Railway) was taken into public ownership in 2018 and operates services on similar or adjacent lines to those of Hull Trains and Grand Central. Franchised Train Operating Companies have received an 18 month deal from government which effectively brings them into public ownership, protecting jobs and services. Government has confirmed that franchising will end, although it’s not yet clear what will replace it.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “Now that the failed and expensive franchising system has gone for good, it's time to deal with the other Tory market shibboleth: open access operators.
“We need trains to be run in the interests of passengers not greedy shareholders. Bringing Grand Central and Hull Trains services into public ownership by having LNER take them over will provide the best service for our passengers and our taxpayers and will safeguard jobs and services.
“Far from being the operator of last resort, public ownership should be top of the list for rail as publicly owned train operators like LNER consistently perform better. Privatisation has failed our railways and the obvious solution is public ownership.”