MPs working on plan to bring back direct London rail link from Cleethorpes

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By Grimsby Telegraph | Wednesday, November 28, 2012, 08:16

TWENTY years after the last direct train left Cleethorpes heading for London, North East Lincolnshire's two MPs are working on a business case to bring it back.

The town's Westminster representatives are uniting to establish a need for the connection – which would dramatically enhance the attractiveness of inward development on the South Bank.

It is a twin-track approach, as discussions are being held within the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership with regard to rail strategy, with the local authority pushing for it to be included in the City Deal request to Government in the new year.

Working with Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce – successful a decade ago in bringing a direct link to Hull, a city which now has seven daily trains – a survey has been launched, with the support of Grimsby & Scunthorpe Media Group.

In a joint statement, Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers and Grimsby's Austin Mitchell said: "We're working to get the direct train service from Cleethorpes to London restored.

"British Rail ran such a service, but in 1992 this was taken off. British Rail claimed that it was unprofitable. Assuming that business from North East Lincolnshire would have increased in the way it has on all other services to London, our view is that a direct service would now be profitable.

"We certainly need one to encourage development and make the area more attractive to incoming businesses.

"We suggest that the Chamber, local businesses and North East Lincolnshire Council help develop that case by providing the evidence that there is a need and will be sufficient customers for one or two trains each day, overnighting in Cleethorpes.

"We need to put this case as soon as possible to show that the service will be both sustainable and profitable. We are sure it will be, but have to prove it."

There are two options and both are being pursued at present. The first would be an open access model such as that used by Hull Trains.

As previously reported, there is operator interest from Grand Central, or Alliance Rail as it was known, subject to carrying a study of the market and Government approval. It is understood a service – picking up between Cleethorpes and Doncaster before a non-stop journey to King's Cross, could be in place by 2014.

A second option would involve provision in the new East Coast contract for an extension of the Lincoln service, via Market Rasen. This would, however, miss out Scunthorpe – and further demand potential.

The MPs have met with Rail Minister Simon Burns, who was said to accept there was a strong case.

This month also marks the 50th year since the last steam passenger train, with diesel engines introduced on the line.

'We are very keen to prove the business case'

A return of the 6.28am from Cleethorpes to King’s Cross would be a second rail success for the campaigning Chamber.

Grimsby-born chief executive Dr Ian Kelly was part of the original team that secured the connection that is now the frequent Hull Trains service on the North Bank.

He said: “To maximise the economic potential of the renewables industry and the fact that we have the biggest port complex in the UK in Grimsby and Immingham, and all that brings with it, we want to again be looking at a direct rail link.

“Alan Johnson (Hull West and Hessle MP) and the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce ran the campaign a decade ago which got Hull Trains. There were ‘nay sayers’ who thought that there wasn’t enough demand from Hull and we proved that wrong, and now have seven journeys a day. It is an important part of growth and expansion in Hull in recent years.

“It was said that Hull could only have a train first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but didn’t we prove them wrong.”

And business contributing to the cause was vital according to Dr Kelly, pictured.

“We are very keen to prove the business case. That was the clinching point according to the Strategic Rail Authority a decade ago. We are working again on the same basis with Austin and Martin to see if we can provide the same evidence base. I very much encourage businesses to get involved. The re-establishment of such a service could be transformational.”

The local authority is currently in discussions with other councils within the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership to draw up a list of requirements for rail infrastructure, and the direct link is also part of that.

A working party is continuing to formulate the submission, due to be sent to Westminster in the new year.

Freight handling upgrades will also be part of a package of measures submitted, as previously reported.

Companies looking to contribute to the business case for the Cleethorpes to London direct link should complete the survey online, by visiting http://ow.ly/fBBM5

      

Comments

       
  • Profile image for bettysenior

    The UK coalition government's thinking on devolving power to the provinces is fine in theory but based upon similar experiences in the past, is bad in practice. Putting billions of pounds in the hands of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) is acceptable as long as these funds are entirely strategically used and not provided for pet subjects or diverted to other ways and means by our Councils. The, 'we know best brigade' who never really know best as our stagnant economy shows clearly. In this respect the former Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) when analysed in-depth were pronounced a non-productive entity when it came to overall economic benefits and most of what happened would have happened organically according to independent reports. We do not want more of the same, but real change for new jobs and wealth creation. Indeed, as the primary mover of all new wealth is the commercial exploitation of 'innovation', LEPs have to concentrate on building the creative infrastructure first where all the creative thinking of local people can be brought to bear on the problem, not just academia and business whose combination has not faired that good economically over the past quarter of a century. In this respect also things will have to be much better than the NESTA which was supposingly to provide the UK with an independent avenue in providing the nation's creative excellence. Indeed, the nation's NESTA (set up by the last Labour Government and retained by the coalition government), the so-called national driver for economics excellence when it comes to innovation and where even after billions have been pumped into it over the last 15 years has created very little in the way of economic benefits, if any meaningful payback at all. In this respect the taxpayer's money has been spent and little return in terms of jobs and new wealth creation has been the outcome. The identical case I consider will be the same old story with the LEPs. The reason in the case of the NESTA was that out of the seventeen trustees that were appointed only one was an engineer. The rest were celebrities and people who had not a clue how to create new technological industries (the things that we all need the most to change our economic and social fortunes around in the future). Even the NESTA's chief executive was not an applied engineer or scientist but a linguist. How a linguist was appointed and understood what innovation was about is still a mystery to me. Here again like the old RDAs, the NESTA has failed and where no significant economic benefit has been forthcoming from the billions invested. Therefore the LEPs (which will have an equivalent NESTA agenda at their core) have to be different and where establishment people, pure academics, innovative illiterate businessmen, celebrities and political figures have not to be appointed to manage, set strategic targets (where they have no idea how the end game will pan out) and produce/implement bureaucratically controlled innovation system (the death knell for all creative thought and where Whitehall in particular is a past master of killing off the goose that laid the golden egg). If this happens again with the LEPs they will be another disastrous failure but where time again will have ticked-on and the UK will be even deeper in the economic mire than it is today. It is therefore imperative that we have 'applied' creative thinkers in the driving seat this time around and not non-performing minds that have not a clue what economic regeneration is all about anyway.

    Dr David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation
    Huddersfield, United Kingdom – Bern, Switzerland – Arlington, United States of
    America

    By bettysenior at 21:11 on 02/12/12

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  • Profile image for BENDITLIKE

    Havntone
    'Network Rail' own and maintain the tracks so First TransPennine are actually unable to upgrade the line.
    This 'problem' applies to all lines and operators in the UK.
    Despite the numerous good aspects of the UK rail industry Labourladie implies there are still many problems affecting the UK rail network...
    Some can be fixed and some probably cannot - except in the very long term.
    As always it comes down to foward plannining and proper investment in the right areas.

    By BENDITLIKE at 11:31 on 29/11/12

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  • Profile image for davendogs

    This one is up there with Vickys notion of the A180. Prepare to be buffered and shunted.

    By davendogs at 10:41 on 29/11/12

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  • Profile image for LesFawcett

    Easy peasy; lengthen the Kings X-Hull trains and split them at Doncaster - two-thirds going to Hull and one-third to Cleethorpes. The increased number of passengers on the combined service could lead to more frequent trains.

    By LesFawcett at 10:04 on 29/11/12

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  • Profile image for labourladie

    When I was working in London some 20 odd years ago I did use the regular direct service via Lincoln and it was always well patronised. Although I used the Mon-Fri trains as a rule I also travelled mid week and there was not a discernible difference in the train loading, on almost all occasions the train would be almost full by Lincoln and pretty much so on the return journey. The only time that the train was fairly lightly loaded would be between Lincoln and Cleethorpes. Cleethorpes being the terminus, fuelling and stabling point for the following days return journey. Like any other vehicle, the train had to park somewhere. So, I was personally surprised when the service ceased and although I had finished my work down south I did make enquires to some of my friends who happened to work on the railways at the time and here are some of the answers- 1. Insufficient loading (the official reason apparently-not my experience of those trains) 2. The railways didn't want smelly diesel trains in Kings Cross because of electrification ! They still have though! 3. the trains themselves (the 'Flying Bananas' apparently) were required elsewhere. 4. The trains used, the 'bananas', had a locomotive at each end and the fuel costs between Newark and Cleethorpes was too high. As I remember it one locomotive was shut off when not on the main line as high speeds could not be achieved because,as one former railwayman put it, the line between Newark and Cleethorpes was nothing more than a "bloody siding". Of course there were many other reasons offered but bearing in mind that these railwaymen had been so thoroughly demoralised by the state of their industry and the then governments attitude to rail travel some of the peoples views were not surprising to say the least! However,the two most common being closure of the system other than short trunk routes and impending privatisation. The former being basically what we have now because it's getting increasingly difficult now to find somewhere that actually still has a railway station and the latter is the result of the post war Americans telling the world that public transport is both "degrading and undignified to to the travelling public". Britain listened to the United States and is still toes the line,as it always has done, but the rest of europe stuck a finger up to them and the result is obvious to anyone who has used the continental railway network. What we have inherited is a fragmented crumbling infrastructure of a railway network with a collection of private companies who seem to be permanently short of trains and staff with an obvious lack of joined up thinking! How can you make that work? So, a direct service from Cleethorpes to London? Don't make me laugh!

    By labourladie at 09:44 on 29/11/12

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