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LNER tests route ahead of possible May return of direct Cleethorpes to London trains

LNER tests route ahead of possible May return of direct Cleethorpes to London trains

LNER's managing director David Horne with Dave Hooper and Anne Tate at Cleethorpes Station.

AFTER years of campaigning, one of LNER’s Azuma trains rolled into Cleethorpes Station as part of a gauge testing programme ahead of a possible introduction of services in the May 2024 timetable.

Among those on board were LNER’s managing director David Horne who said: “Today represents a big step forward in the possible introduction of direct services to London from Cleethorpes if all goes well. It has gone well so far, but in today’s railway we have to make sure disabled access and stepping height is up to scratch and that could be an issue at Market Rasen which is where we will be stopping next.

“If it all goes well, we then need the final sign-off and some funding from Government to make this a reality.”

LNER Azuma in CleethorpesThe Chamber’s External Affairs Director David Hooper, Northern Lincolnshire Manager Anne Tate, Adam Fowler, from the City of Hull & Humber Environment Forum and Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers were among those eagerly awaiting the train’s arrival from its depot in Doncaster.

If it goes ahead, the resort will be served by the first train to London in the morning, and the last one returning in the evening, giving Northern Lincolnshire its first direct connection to the capital for more than 31 years. It is hoped that Barnetby and Market Rasen will also be included as stops in the timetable.

The Chamber has lobbied for the reintroduction of the service for several years after LNER introduced direct services from Lincoln with its new Hitachi 800 trains, suggesting it wouldn’t take much for them to travel the extra few miles up to Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

Following meetings with LNER at their head office in York, the Chamber was told that it would only cost around £1-million a year, which in rail terms is not much money at all.

Meetings then followed with the then Rail Minister Andrew Jones and Northern Lincolnshire business leaders hosted by Phillips 66 to put forward what Mr Jones said was a very strong business case for this service to be included in a future timetable.

It would save many business people driving to Newark or Doncaster to get a direct train to London, which all helps with the current green agenda also.

David Hooper and Adam Fowler also visited the Department for Transport and won its support for the business case for the region.

David said: “It’s great to see this LNER train finally pulling into Cleethorpes – it’s been a long journey to get to this point and it would be fantastic for the area if we can see this service included in the May timetable for the first time since 1992. It would also give the area the opportunity to market itself in London and attract visitors to the area from the south and boost our tourism, which all helps the local economy and creates jobs.”

“One of the key obstacles was the commissioning of a Grip 2 Survey which looks at whether the trains fill actually fit up the tracks, not hit platforms and go around the bends without hitting any trackside furniture. No-one wanted to pay for it, so I asked the Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, Cllr Philip Jackson, and NELC’s Managing Director Rob Walsh at the Chamber’s Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards if they would fund the £25,000 study. They quickly agreed, and that got things to the next level, having demonstrated there were no major problems.

“Many of the biggest Northern Lincolnshire businesses want to see this service introduced, and it was great to see a strong turn-out from the local press and lots of enthusiastic onlookers, who, when they realised what was happening, were quick to add their endorsement to the region’s direct London train ambitions.”

David Hooper and Martin Vickers

David Hooper and Martin Vickers with LNER's Azuma train at Cleethorpes Station.

LNER Azuma in Cleethorpes with Adam

Pictured with David Horne (centre) are Dave Hooper (left) and Adam Fowler.

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