An attempt to reassure long-suffering Hull Trains passengers about services was scuppered today after a serious problem with another of its trains
The train operator issued an artist’s impression of the five £60m Hitachi trains which will come into service next year - saying they wanted “every single experience” of customers to be a positive one.
But just a few hours later, passengers were evacuated and the fire service called after a problem with a train at Welwyn North.
Hertfordshire Fire Control warned of delays on the line “until further notice.”
One passenger tweeted the engine had "exploded" with staff putting themselves "in harms way to ensure evacuation of burning carriage".
Hull North MP Diana Johnson was among those caught up in the confusion at Kings Cross, after the 13:48 Hull Trains service to Hull was cancelled.
She said: “It’s all very well Hull Trains putting out PR material about getting new trains in December 2019, but I’m worried about their viability for another 18 months at this rate.
“Their reputation has taken a serious hit in the past six months.
“The current Hull Trains fleet is unreliable.
“Worse still, First Group have no spare trains of the same type that Hull Trains can use and Hull Trains’ drivers are not trained to drive any other type of train that could be used as short term replacements.
“What’s happening is bad for the City of Hull and for the many good people who work for Hull Trains who get the brunt of passenger disappointment.”
The train operator has had a torrid few months with numerous cancellations, after two of its four-strong fleet were damaged, leading to concerns about reliability.
In a statement about the incident Hull Trains said: “A problem with a Hull Trains service has been reported and the train has stopped at Welwyn North with the fire service called as a precaution. All passengers have been detrained and are being transported by road to London Kings Cross.”
The new trains will operate on both diesel and electric traction and will have more first class seats.
Project director Phil Cameron said: “We’ve reached the end of the engineering and design phase and have now completed final sign off for production."
Louise Cheeseman, Director of Service Delivery, said: “This investment highlights Hull Trains’ commitment to high levels of customer satisfaction – something which we focus on from the service our team provides, through to the facilities experienced by everyone who uses our services.
“We want every single experience of Hull Trains to be a positive one and the new fleet will further enhance our customer experience for all who use these facilities.”
Director of the charity City of Hull Environment Forum Adam Fowler said: “Today’s incident reinforces the need to get the new trains on line as soon as possible.
“The basic problem is they don’t haven’t enough spare sets when anything goes wrong. Until they get the new trains this will be a recurring problem - periods of stability and then chaos.”