Friday, 12 February 2021

Introducing the 55 and X5

On Sunday 3rd January, East Yorkshire extensively revised their services along the A63 corridor out of Hull towards Brough and Goole. In this post I will focus on services that extend west of Melton Business Park.

Previously the main services along the corridor were the 155 and X55. The 155 operated out of Hull Paragon Interchange via Anlaby Road and Boothferry Road as far as Darleys Roundabout, then via Beverley Road, Swanland Road, Barrow Lane and Ferriby Road in Hessle, North Ferriby High Street and Melton Road, Melton and Welton Villages, Brough, Elloughton, Brantingham (early morning and evening journeys only), South Cave, North Cave, Newport, Gilberdyke, Eastrington, Howden, Goole Hospital to Goole Town Centre. The slightly quicker X55 took the same route out of Hull as far as Darleys Roundabout, then continued along Boothferry Road via Bridgehead Business Park to join the A63 to Brough then largely as the 155 to Goole, but not serving Brantingham at all and with some route variations in Goole. There was also a limited 155A that operated via Anlaby instead of Boothferry Road, additionally served Melton Business Park and also served Brantingham. Finally to add into the mix was a small number of service 153 journeys that extended west of Melton Business Park; one Monday to Saturday evening service from Elloughton via Brough, Welton, Melton, to Melton Business Park then as the main 153 route to Hull via North Ferriby, one Monday to Saturday evening return, that extended beyond Elloughton to Brantingham and South Cave, and two hourly Sunday daytime extensions to Melton and Welton.

Monday to Saturday daytimes the core pattern was the 155 hourly between Hull and Elloughton and the X55 hourly between Hull and South Cave, extending two hourly to Goole. The 155 picked up most early morning and late afternoon Goole extensions and also provided a limited evening service alongside the previously mentioned 153. The 155A variation provided two morning peak journeys from Hull, an early morning service from North Cave and a single afternoon journey from Goole, Monday to Friday only. On Sundays the 155 provided four journeys between Hull and South Cave during the daytime.

Now everything has changed. The 153 no longer operates in this area, and the 155 and X55 have been replaced by new services 55 and X5, along with a change to the 152. The 155A remains but with some changes to it's western termini. 

The 55 follows the X55 route out of Hull, serving Bridgehead Business Park - service 152 picks up the 155’s old route in Hessle (more in a future post) - before routing via North Ferriby High Street and Melton Road, Melton Business Park (replacing the 153), Melton, Welton, Brough, Elloughton, South Cave and as per the old 155 route to Goole. Brantingham is not served at all by the 55. Service 55 operates hourly Monday to Saturday daytimes between Hull and Gilberdyke. The Gilberdyke to Goole section has four services to Goole and three from Goole Monday to Friday and two each way on Saturdays. The 55 operates hourly early evening between Hull and Elloughton but there is no late evening service. On Sundays, five journeys operate in each direction between Hull and Gilberdyke.

The X5 is a new coach operated service between Hull and Goole. It operates direct from Paragon Interchange in Hull, omitting other City Centre stops, then via Hull Royal Infirmary, Rawling Way and the A63 to Brough and Elloughton. It's then back onto the A63 to Newport, Gilberdyke - serving the B1230 only and not running into the village - Howden and Goole (but not Goole Hospital). Aside from Hull City Centre, the route in Gilberdyke and the extension to Goole, it is rather reminiscent of the original X55 Petuaria Express. The X5 operates five times a day Monday to Friday and four on Saturdays. Although the X5 is advertised as limited stop, as far as i can tell it stops at all stops it passes; limited stop is presumably a reference to the sections of the A63 and B1230 without stops.

It maybe that timetables and frequencies are being 'depressed' by COVID-19, but overall this seems like a step backwards if it reflects the longer term service provision planned by East Yorkshire. Hull to Brough and Elloughton has gone from an almost half hourly service Monday to Saturday, to an hourly service plus four or five fast coaches. Eastrington is reduced from approximately two hourly to 2-4 services per day, with links to Goole Hospital similarly reduced. Hull to South Cave journey times are increased from 51 to 61 minutes. There is also no late evening service at all, so the last departure from Hull is at 1710 to North Cave, 1730 to Gilberdyke, Howden and Goole, 1810 to South Cave and at 2010 to Elloughton, as opposed to 1800 to Goole, 1950 to North Cave, Gilberdyke and Howden and 2255 to Elloughton and South Cave.

There are certainly some positives here which should be acknowledged. Newport and Gilberdyke increase from a two hourly service Monday to Saturday daytimes to hourly plus an occasional fast coach. North Cave gains an hourly rather than two hourly service. Journey times from Hull to Melton and Welton reduce by three minutes. There is a new Monday to Friday 0530 from Elloughton to Hull, previous first service 0633. The early evening service between Hull and Elloughton is increased to hourly rather than 1800 then 1950. On Sundays there is an extra journey, and now a Sunday service from North Cave, Newport and Gilberdyke (Melton and Welton have lost the 153, but it was arguably a 'relic' from when it was the X55 rather than 155 that operated on a Sunday).

It's the X5 which seems most questionable to me, certainly west of Elloughton. Between Hull, Brough and Elloughton, offering one fast and one slow service has it's advantages and disadvantages compared to two less differentiated services. Given the housing growth in Brough, and the railway station being located away from 55 and X5 routes, there is potential here post COVID-19. In Howden, the X5 will have more use as the main service into Goole, and also it's railway station is a significant distance outside of the town.

Taking Gilberdyke however and whilst the X5 is being positioned as a fast Hull link, assuming the pre COVID-19 rail timetable is reinstated, it will be up against two trains per hour, one taking 19 minutes versus 37 on on the X5. Unless there are significant price differentials, how can the X5, or the X5 and 55 combined compete - senior citizen pass holders aside? Rail will have the frequency and speed advantage. It's a similar story in Goole. Two trains per hour to Hull pre COVID-19, the fastest taking 29 minutes as opposed to an hour on the X5. Plus while the X62 doesn't serve Goole Town Centre and the route also had to support the Goole to Leeds section, when Stagecoach tried to provide a more comprehensive fast service on the X62 between Hull and Goole, it failed.

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