First of all, apologies for the fairly lengthy delay in posting this.


The following is a summary from reports by Pete Myers of Northern Rail at the last BCCRP OGM, which I am providing here with Pete's permission.


Firstly I should make it clear that at the time of the meeting Pete reported that the situation was quite murky with some details likely to change.


Pete confirmed that the use of class 153s singly would be barred on 31st December 2019 under the new Persons of Reduced Mobility regulations. Northern would continue to use the units, paired with other units which had been modified, on their remaining services.


The station management of all the stations New Clee - Barton inclusive, excluding Grimsby Town which remains TPE, should transfer from Northern to East Midlands on the franchise change date.

The operation of the Barton Line train service will change at a timetable change, possible  December 2019 or even May 2020. There is a slight possibility of an interim period between December and May of TPE operating the service for one timetable period.

Trains will initially continue to be crewed by TPE Cleethorpes traincrew. It is not yet known what Abellio's long term plan is for traincrew provision.

East Midlands will supply a PRM modified class 156 to work the Barton Line from the December 2019 timetable change.

There will be significant community rail funding in the new East Midlands franchise.

Station based PIS will be installed under the new East Midlands franchise. Northern were instructed by Transport for the North not to install this due to the change of franchise.

The franchise agreement, containing fuller details of Abellio's plans, will be published shortly after the franchise commences.


The Brigg line service will continue to be operated by Northern in its current Saturday only format. There was a promise to look into calling these trains additionally at Stallingborough and possibly other local stations.


The Gainsborough Central regular service has been successful, especially with flows from Gainsborough to Retford and Worksop. Pete commented on being asked that it would be possible to extend the service to Cleethorpes but not for the forseeable future due to a lack of rolling stock. This would perhaps be something for a future Northern franchise.


Posted by HumberTransport on

Thanks for the update.

So if I'm interpreting the above correctly, from December to May there is a possibility of:

-An EMR Class 156 in use with EMR station management

-TPE drivers (and a Class 185 on the first service?)

-The responsible TOC being Northern or TPE

So potentially three TOC's all involved?

Posted by TomIrvin on

A surprise and somewhat out of the blue update, received from Abellio via the Gill Simpson of the CRP. I have copied the CRP text directly, with permission.

Date 14th August 2019
Dear All
I have spoken to Edward Funnell Stakeholder Engagement Adviser for Abellio, he has informed me that there will be a delay in the transfer of the Barton Cleethorpes Line to East Midlands
The DfT have decided to look again at the transfer of the line and where it will sit best in the overall delivery of the service. They are allowing 12 months for this to be fully investigated before making a final decision.
What does this mean to the BCCRP? During this period, I will remain as your officer and we will continue to strive to meet the aspirations of the line plan and work together to develop new
initiatives. The BCCRP will be funded by East Midlands Railway although the service will remain the responsibility of Northern and the train crew will be supplied by Transpennine.


I understand that December 2020 is now a likely transfer date, though it seems far from set in stone. It also sounds from other communications like this has been dropped quite suddenly on Northern.


Humber Transport, the bulk of your questions are now moot, but the one thing I will say is that with the new early morning Sheffield - Cleethorpes and late evening return, both TPE, which would appear to use the 185 currently used on the Barton, the early and late 185 seems far from guaranteed from December. There will of course be TPE unit diagram changes with the increased six car working, so probably too soon to rule anything out.


Northern will need to either get a dispensation or utilise a PRM modified unit from January 1st. Again no clue as yet as to what will happen.

Posted by HumberTransport on

I have never supported the move to the East Midlands franchise, so I welcome the DfT thinking again, but I hadn't expected a rethink this late in the process.

I wonder if this has anything to do with devolution? I read in the FoBL minutes a couple of months ago that North Lincolnshire Council were concerned with the line going outside of Transport for the North's remit. Late last month the Hull Daily Mail reported the government were only interested in a Humber devolution deal - which would in turn would 'cement' North and North East Lincolnshire's place in the North of England. The 'political/administrative' geography never did make sense for transfer to the East Midlands franchise, it potentially is about to make even less sense.

The one concern I will raise is that if the transfer doesn't happen, the Barton Line may miss out on investment (station improvements/Winter Sunday services). Northern haven't done anything on the basis it would be for the East Midlands franchise to do, which I can understand from Northern's perspective. Hopefully if the transfer is cancelled, the DfT (and TfN) would agree to implement whatever Abellio had planned for the stations, as well as the year round Sunday service.

As per real train times for 16th December, the new 0716 arrival from Sheffield into Cleethorpes goes onto platform 3, from where the 0729 to Manchester Airport departs. The 0750 arrival from Barton goes onto platform 1 from where the 0826 to Manchester Airport departs. I wouldn't therefore expect any issues with Class 185 use on the early service. The late service of course could use the 'dedicated Barton Line unit', if an alternative way of swapping the unit 'out' could be found (or Northern became happy for the same unit to remain all week and transfer out via Brigg on a Saturday).

Posted by HumberTransport on

One other thought - Northern are keeping some Class 144's in use during early 2020, operating out of Sheffield. I wonder if the initial solution for the Barton Line could be a Pacer?

Posted by Anthony Berridge on

Personally I am not taking sides over whether EMR or Northern Rail takes responsibity for the Barton line service as I can see pros and cons for each.  In fact I still feel that the best solution would be for the service to be re-absorbed into the TPE franchise if they can be persuaded to agree.

While this change of plan appears as a big surprise, Northern Lincolnshire's identity has been an ongoing issue for decades, if not right back to the days when we were in Lindsey.  It may be recalled that Lindsey was created in Saxon times as a buffer between the warring states of Mercia (i.e. East Midlands) and Northumberland (i.e. the North).  Northern Lincolnshire has always traded and communicated more with Hull and southern Yorkshire than with Lincoln and Lincolnshire in general.  Yet, when we were lumped with the north bank under Humberside CC (more for political reasons than for commercial ones) people objected vociferously.  Now proposals are being aired that we consider ourselves as within Lincolnshire.  So, as the French say, 'plus ca change plus ca rest de meme' (the more it changes the more it stays the same).


Posted by TomIrvin on

I have noticed in some of the publicity for the launch of Abellio East Midlands Railway that Transport for the North is listed as a key stakeholder for the franchise. I have also suggested to both North and North East Lincolnshire councils that they seek to attend East Midlands Councils meetings in relation to the franchise, something which I understand neither have done. Thus, adminstratively the Barton Line need not be that far from the East Midlands.


I share your concern over the risk of missing out on investment. I believe that under EMR, each station would have received a ticket vending machine and passenger information screens. I cannot see these improvements being made until the long term future of the line is known. The year round Sunday service was not likely to start until December 2021, so hopefully if the DfT make their decision on schedule, then this will be able to go ahead as planned. Of course, if the decision is for us to remain with Northern, this will require further modifications to their franchise agreement and quite probably a relatively small increase in subsidy for the franchise.


I also think Northern would be likely to provide a lower standard of rolling stock than EMR. The EMR franchise promised PRM modified 156s from December with 'modern air conditioned trains', widely expected to be 170s, to follow. Whilst I see pacers as unlikely, as it would require TPE crews to be trained for the short period of their coninued use under the dispensation before learning other stock in time for the dispensation expiring, I think their are 3 likely rolling stock solutions under Northern for this interim period

1) Obtain a dispensation from the DfT to allow continued use of class 153s until the franchise decision is made. 

2) Arrange for a daily hire of the EMR 156 previously planned to be used. 

3) Arrange for Cleethorpes traincrew to be trained on other traction, most likley clas 150s. These are, in my opinion, less comfortable than the 153s presently used and a far lower standard than the 156s and 170s we were expecting to see.


Thank you for the analyis on the TPE workings. I had not appreciated that the new working arrives in time for the 07:29 departure. There could well be some diagramming surprises with the significant increase in 6 car working, although your analysis does make me feel more confident over the continued use of 185s on the morning train.

Posted by HumberTransport on

If anyone is interested I have sent the following to the DfT this morning:


FAO Rail Franchising


I am aware that the department is currently considering who is best placed to operate rail services between Barton Upon Humber and Cleethorpes – the Barton Line – and that as such the planned transfer from Northern Rail operation to Abellio East Midlands Railway is currently on hold. I hope you will be able to take on board my following comments on this.


I do not support transferring the Barton Line to Abellio East Midlands Railway (EMR) and feel it should be retained within the Northern Rail operation (or any successor), or if not, operated as part of the TransPennine Express (TPE) operation, TPE being the current provider of crew to operate the service.


On an operational basis, the Invitation to Tender train service requirement and proposals announced by Abellio and the department upon franchise award, imply that the Barton Line will be, to at least some extent, isolated from the rest of the EMR network for the majority of the day. The plans are for the Barton Line to operate largely as present Monday to Saturday between Barton and Cleethorpes, whilst the only other EMR service in the area, from Leicester, Nottingham and Lincoln, will terminate at Grimsby Town during daytime hours. From a rolling stock perspective the services will be separated for the majority of the day; I am unaware of Abellio’s long term plans for crew provision. In the stakeholder response to the Northern and TPE franchise consultation in February 2015, the department noted in paragraph 4.11 that the Barton Line “has been operationally separated from the rest of Northern, making it difficult for the operator to develop the service strategically and for it to handle service disruptions”. The planned EMR operation means the Barton Line would remain operationally separate for most of the day and service disruptions will not be easy to deal with as a result. It rather voids the department’s original justification for the franchise remapping.


In addition, the nearest rolling stock maintenance depot will be in Nottingham, which remains some distance away from the Barton Line and which will not make service recovery significantly quicker in the event of replacement rolling stock needing to be sent to the Barton Line in the event of the Barton Line unit needing to be taken out of use unexpectedly (e.g. breakdown).


Whilst ever the split between the main regional express services and local services remains in the North of England, the Barton Line is never going to ‘neatly’ fit into one operation or another.


The franchise remapping proposal also creates an anomalous situation whereby a route fully within two Transport for the North (TfN) constituent authorities, and fully within the north of England, is being transferred to a franchise which is primarily outside of the north of England and with far more limited TfN involvement.


As much as I am pleased the department is reconsidering the future operator of the Barton Line, and potentially cancelling the transfer to Abellio East Midlands Railway, it is important the Barton Line does not lose out as a result of this. During the Northern Rail franchising process, improvements to the Barton Line were not provided on the basis of it’s upcoming transfer to the East Midlands operation, and as such the Barton Line has not seen any significant improvements for years. Abellio had proposed station improvements and the reintroduction of Winter Sunday services as part of their bid and should the Barton Line not transfer, these improvements should still be implemented.


Finally I would like to suggest that regardless of the future operation of the Barton Line, that management of Habrough station is transferred to TPE; since last month, almost all TPE services now stop at Habrough. As TPE have realised, Habrough station does not only serve the village of Habrough, but also the nearby town of Immingham, it’s port, the port and industrial facilities at Killingholme, and other nearby villages. Habrough is an important railhead/parkway station for the local area and TPE management of the station would acknowledge this and be in line with other stations in similar circumstances, such as Barnetby and Brough.