Sunday 26 January 2020

New Wren Kitchens Commuter Bus

Stagecoach will be introducing new Monday to Friday service 255 from Hull Paragon Interchange to the Wren Kitchens HQ in Barton on Monday 3rd February. Departures will leave Paragon Interchange at 0605, 0805, 1425, 1630 and 1730, and Wren Kitchens at 1550, 1720 and 1810. The 255 will follow the 250 Humber Flyer route from Paragon Interchange via Anlaby Road, Boothferry Road and the Humber Bridge to Ferriby Road in Barton and then operate via the Market Place and Barrow Road to Wren Kitchens.

The new service 255 journeys come at the 'expense' of some of the 250 Humber Flyer 'shorts' between Hull, Barton and Humberside Airport, but I'm not sure this will be a huge issue as I often see the 'shorts' arriving and departing Humberside Airport empty, or almost empty. Service 250 journeys withdrawn, all Monday to Friday only, are the 0645 from Paragon Interchange to Barton Market Place, the 0825, 1425, 1630 and 1730 from Paragon Interchange to Humberside Airport and the 1525, 1740 and 1840 from Humberside Airport to Paragon Interchange.

Reviewing in more detail the changes and their impact on the overall Hull to Barton service, the first service from Hull to Barton will be 15 minutes earlier than at present with the 0605 service 255, but there will be a 35 minute gap between the 0620 and 0655 service 350 departures from Hull to Barton - probably not a significant issue at that time of day. The new 0605 presumably works 'onto' the 0723 Barton Market Place to Hull service 250. The replacement of the 0825 255 with the 0805 250 is a very slight worsening of the Hull to Barton service at this time of day, which fits in between the 0755 and 0840 service 350 departures from Hull to Barton, but again probably not a significant issue at this time of day heading out of Hull. The 0805 service 255 presumably works 'dead' upon on arrival at Wren Kitchens to Humberside Airport to 'pick up' the 0925 service 250 from the airport to Hull.

In the afternoon, the 1425, 1630 and 1730 departures from Hull Paragon Interchange becoming a 255 rather than 250 means they will not serve the Interchange, Butts Road or Pasture Road in Barton, which is unfortunate and does slightly undermine the afternoon every 15 minutes service from Hull to these areas of Barton. Three buses an hour is still very good though. Likewise replacing the 1525 service 250 from Humberside Airport with the 1550 from Wren Kitchens not serving Pasture Road, Butts Road and Barton Interchange, and also serving the opposite side of the Market Place to other 'Hull-bound' journeys, does 'spoil' the 'headline' 15 minute service, but in this direction at this time of day, I don't think it's a major issue. 

The replacement of the 1740 and 1840 service 250 journeys from Humberside Airport with the 1720 and 1810 service 255 from Wren Kitchens is actually an improvement between Barton and Hull however, as between Barton and Hull these 250 journeys had been leaving at the same time as service 350 journeys, but will no longer do so.

Last year Wren Kitchens received approval for a new factory adjacent to their Barton HQ which will generate an initial 525-535 extra jobs, potentially rising to 1260-1285 extra positions. The planning application economic impact assessment noted that in April 2019, Wren Kitchens employed 1551 people at Barton, with 807 (52%) living in a HU (Hull and East Riding) postcode. There is an existing market for Stagecoach to serve here, and one that will grow significantly when the new factory opens. With largely concentrated shift start and end times, it seems ideal for commuter bus services, and any reduction in cars travelling through Barton Town Centre is very welcome on air quality, congestion and safety grounds. On an anecdotal basis, my personal observations are that there is a near constant flow of vehicles coming off the Humber Bridge through Barton to Wren Kicthens around 0630-0640 each morning. There is also a lot of vehicles leaving the site around 1730.

Hopefully the 255 will provide some useful 'contraflow' traffic to the overall Hull to Barton service and help ensure the success of Stagecoach's increase of the Barton to Hull service to four departures an hour Monday to Saturday daytime.

The 250 Humber Flyer journeys serving Grimsby and Cleethorpes are unaffected, as is the Saturday service.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Transport for the North Proposals for the Humber

I never got round to covering this at the time, but last year (2019), Transport for the North released various reports containing suggestions for how to improve the north's transport network. Below are some of the ideas covering the Humber area and I have tried to leave out those which are already confirmed as going ahead. Not much in the way of detail or timelines though and then there is the issue of funding the ideas.

New Station Between Habrough and Barnetby

The suggestion that caught my attention the most was the idea of a new station between Habrough and Barnetby, listed under the outcome of "Improve access to International Gateways in the Southern Pennines SDC". That could indicate the new station is meant to serve Immingham Docks, but Habrough does that and Immingham Docks is only an international gateway for freight, or it could be a reference to the Cleethorpes to Manchester Airport TransPennine Express (TPE) service calling at the potential new station. The other option though is that the new station would be sited near Humberside Airport.

Leaving Humberside Airport aside for a minute, there probably is not the need for a new station if it wasn't for the constraints on expanding parking at Barnetby station. Barnetby is ideally sited as a parkway station being close to the A15, A18, A180 and M180; however there is limited room for extra parking and access involves travelling through parts of the residential area of the village and then up a narrow lane to the station. Making more use of Habrough station, which started last month as almost all TPE services now call there, can potentially help if all Immingham area passengers now use Habrough rather than Barnetby, but Habrough is very unlikely to be attractive for potential users from say Brigg or Caistor.

So long term there maybe a need for a new station. Unless a new station is built at Wrawby Junction with a new access road from the A18 which would be very expensive, then there will be a need to look east of Barnetby, or accept that a new station could not serve the Lincoln and Brigg lines. Taking the latter option, which it does not seem is under consideration in any case, where the Wrawby Junction to Scunthorpe line crosses the A18 between Wrawby and Barnetby could be a potential new station location, but the railway is in a cutting here from what I recall, so again a new station would be expensive. Elsham station could be reopened, but road access would not be good from the likes of Caistor.

East of Barnetby the logical location to me would be where the railway crosses the A18, which happens to be in the vicinity of Humberside Airport. Such a location could form a parkway station not only for local villages but even for customers as far away as Louth who could travel on the A16/A18 to access the station. There could also be very limited commuter use for the airport business park and Singleton Birch at Melton Ross. It's not perfect though; the airport terminal would be slightly beyond walking distance, not that the airport would likely generate many rail passengers, and any traffic from the west (e.g. Brigg) would have to travel through Melton Ross village on the A18 to access the site. As such I expect any new station would be a reliever for Barnetby, not a replacement.

Services between Hull and Doncaster

For future services between Hull and Doncaster the following is suggested:
  • 1 per hour Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) fast service via Selby
  • 2 per hour 'conventional' fast services via Selby
  • 1 per hour stopping service via Goole
At present there are two services an hour via Goole and some hours a further service via Selby (mostly provided via Hull Trains). The extra services between Hull and Doncaster are welcome, but what about Goole that currently has a fast service every hour as well as the stopping service? The idea could be to add a Goole to Doncaster stopping service and/or have a regular Hull-Goole-Pontefract-Leeds service, which could mitigate for the loss of the current fast service via Goole, but that is just speculation on my part.

Other Rail Possibilities

Other ideas mentioned, all of which sound positive:
  • Gauge enhancements and journey time improvements between Hull Docks and Selby for railfreight
  • Hull to Scarborough journey time and frequency improvements
  • Hull to York service improvements (further details not specified)
  • An 'additional NPR service' between Cleethorpes, Doncaster and Sheffield. Does that imply the current TPE service between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport will be part of NPR (hopefully so), hence a second service between Cleethorpes and Sheffield being an additional NPR service? 
  • Journey time and capacity improvements between Cleethorpes and Doncaster - this is listed under 'before 2027' in the proposed investment programme (table 3)
Road Suggestions

I don't usually cover road schemes on here, but quickly some of the road schemes suggested for the Humber area:
  • A63 relief route
  • A63 technology improvements
  • A63/A1033 junction improvements (unspecified as what the improvements would be)
  • New M62 junctions between Goole and Selby (locations not specified)
  • A1079 Hull to York improvements (unspecified)
  • Dualling the A164 between the Humber Bridge and Willerby - this would then link up with the existing dual carriageway between Willerby and Castle Hill Hospital.
  • A180 upgrade (unspecified) 
  • Grimsby western relief road
  • 'A15 junctions (A63 to M180) including A1077 improvements' - presumably something is being worked up for the section of the A15 between the Humber Bridge and Barnetby Top, as well as for the A1077
  • A15 improvements (unspecified) between the M180 and Lincoln