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Anger over rail service meeting snub

Hull MP Diana Johnson has shamed rail company TransPennine Express in the House of Commons for failing to attend a meeting with fellow MP Emma Hardy, Hull City Council, business leaders and rail experts.

In a question to the Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry, the Hull North MP asked: “If the Government is serious about creating a Northern Powerhouse and improving connectivity between communities in the North, does the Northern Powerhouse Minister think that TransPennine’s plans to lengthen journeys form Hull across the Pennines, and not turning up for a meeting with the city’s MPs and business leaders last week to discuss this will help deliver his plans for the Northern Powerhouse?”.

Mr Berry replied: “It was extremely disappointing if TransPennine Express didn’t turn up to a meeting with Members of Parliament from the City of Hull, but I hope the Honourable Lady would be encouraged that the Government is investing £13-billion, more than any Government in history, in the northern transport infrastructure and have set up Transport for the North, a sub-national statutory transport body, which is currently consulting on a 30-year plan to improve transport across the North of England.

Ms Johnson’s Parliamentary question came after the Hull MPs were snubbed by TransPennine Express who failed to attend a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce which included the MPs, a cross-party delegation from Hull City Council and the Chamber’s rail consultants.

TransPennine had been invited to hear concerns over their May 20 timetable plans to downgrade their rail services between Hull and Manchester to a 10-stop service with longer journey times, using refurbished trains, while other services, including those from Scarborough, are seeing journey times cut by more than 20 minutes and brand new rolling stock.

In a statement to the media, Ms Johnson said that in all her years as a Member of Parliament, never before had she known a company refuse to attend a meeting when they have effectively been summoned by MPs to explain their plans. “It is disrespectful to me as a Member of Parliament, it’s disrespectful to the Chamber, the Council and the people of Hull who are their customers”.

Emma Hardy agreed, saying she wanted people who live in Hull to be able to work in Leeds and Manchester, but still live in Hull so they can spend their money here which will in turn benefit our businesses and the local economy.

The meeting concluded with agreement on three key aims to be delivered by TransPennine Express by 2020:

  1. The retention of an hourly express service between Hull-Manchester, (with minimal intermediate stops).
  2. The urgent reinstatement of a direct Manchester Airport-Hull service.
  1. The move to a half-hourly express service between Hull-Leeds, ideally continuing to Manchester Airport or Liverpool.

As well as raising the issue in Parliament, the MPs pledged to lobby Transport for the North on the issue as the services being inflicted on Hull fly in the face of TfN’s declared policy of reducing journey times across the Pennines.