The Grimsby Telegraph reported this week that North East Lincolnshire Council's Sustainable Travel funding bid to the Department for Transport has been successful, and that part of the successful bid includes significant improvements to Stagecoach service 5 between Grimsby and Immingham.
Full details of the bid are available on the council website. For service 5, £200,000 of government funding will be used to 'Kick Start' major improvements to the service, alongside an investment of £150,000 by Stagecoach in two additional low floor buses and a further £20,000 from Stagecoach of "marketing design services" to assist in promotion. Service 5 will, as part of a quality partnership, double in daytime frequency from half hourly to every 15 minutes between Grimsby and Immingham, with a half hourly extension to the new Able UK industrial development at Killingholme as well as the CATCH training facility and the Philips 66 Oil Refinery. It is not stated if the frequency increase will just be on weekdays, or if Saturdays are included as well.
It isn't quite clear to me how this will work in practice, and how the South Killingholme extensions to the 5 and those journeys that continue beyong Immingham as service 150 or 450 will be affected. The peak time service 5 extensions to Habrough and Ulceby are also not mentioned. The Able UK site and Philips 66 Oil Refinery are north of Immingham, while CATCH is to the east on the Kiln Lane Industrial Estate already served at peak times as part of the MIC Plant extensions, and the three sites would not be easily served by the same half hourly extension.
Page 8 of the bid document also contains a map. The MIC Plant route is colour coded "5 bus service with increased frequency". There is then a route colour coded "New bus service" along Manby Road and Rosper Road to serve Able UK and Philips 66, which then continues along Crook Mill Road to Thornton Abbey and a map label "To Barton Upon Humber". South Killingholme is colour coded "150/450 bus service" along with North Killingholme and Habrough.
The map could suggest that after operating a 15 minute frequency to Immingham County Hotel, the service will then split to serve CATCH/MIC Plant/Kiln Lane or extend to Able UK. This could provide a half hourly service to both areas. The extension to Barton is intriguing, as it is not mentioned elsewhere within the bid document, and would no doubt require significant funding. It would however significantly improve public transport links to the Able UK site, as passengers from Hull or Scunthorpe could connect onto an Able UK service in the town. Any Barton extension would presumably be routed via East Halton village, not Crook Mill Road as shown on the map, and would serve Barrow as well en-route to Barton.
It is worth pointing out that the 150 and 450 are North Lincolnshire Council financially supported, and that South Killingholme, North Killingholme, East Halton and the Able UK site are in North Lincolnshire, not North East Lincolnshire. This, and the focus on access to employment and training in the bid document, may explain the lack of detail on services to villages North and West of Immingham.
The Kick Start approach was used successfully around 10 years ago to relaunch the Laceby Acres/Nunsthorpe-Grimsby-Cleethorpes routes (now services 3 and 4) with 10 minute frequencies. For service 5 it will subsidise the first year of the increased frequency, with the intention that fare income and developer contributions will ensure it becomes commercially sustainable afterwards.
This is exceptionally good news for travel between Grimsby and Immingham, and for access to employment and training sites around Immingham. The changes will be a real 'step-change' in provision with the potential to deliver significant growth in the use of bus services. Hopefully Habrough and North Lincolnshire villages such as South Killingholme will not see cutbacks as a result of these changes, and can retain through services to Grimsby.
Finally, the bid also includes plans for a cycle hub at Cleethorpes station, which could offer the potential for workers in the Immingham/South Humber Bank area to travel by train to Habrough and then cycle to work.
(Unless I missed it, I haven't seen any timescales or start dates quoted)
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