Northern Rail – Crisis talks with DfT?

Northern Rail Class 319 electric unit at Liverpool Lime Street Station

Railnews has the story on its website – see link below:-

railnews.mobi/news/2018/11/05-northern-in-crisis-talks-over.html

Rumours that Northern has been suffering financially have been around for a while but then again that’s surely no surprise to anyone based on their well-documented troubles.

OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers Assn) and Southport Rail Transport Forum have been lobbying anyone who will listen about the poor levels of service on the Ormskirk – Preston and Southport-Wigan-Manchester Lines for a long time now, indeed the troubles as I have often said well predate the May 2018 timetable meltdown.

But of course, Northern’s problems are far, far wider than the two local lines that I am reasonably well informed about and I have been impressed with the campaigning over these troubles by MP’s Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) and Lisa Nandy (Wigan).

I appreciate that not all of Northern’s troubles are of their own making and that their franchise has been hugely impacted on in a negative way by Network Rail’s delayed electrification projects and by the related stalled cascading of rolling stock. However, the trouble is not only the financial impact on Northern, who seem to have significant industrial relations problems with their own staff but on the confidence that the travelling public has in them.

Surely ending this franchise would be best all round, would it not?

Northern Train Fares – Going down the route of private car park enforcement?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/waiting-buy-ticket-northern-rail-14498902

This move made me wonder whether this new penalty scheme will in fact catch out the honest traveller as well as the deliberate fare evader?

What do you do if you are at an unstaffed station with only a ticket purchasing machine but the person ahead of you has never seen one before and is puzzling about how to work it and get the best value ticket for their journey. Oh and the train is coming too so you are not going to be able to get a ticket yourself. Do you take a chance that the guard/ticket inspector will believe you or do say oh well I’ll have to await the next train which maybe an hour later?

See what I mean? This new process could start to look like what happens where private parking companies are running supermarket or shopping centre car parks, in other words a money making process not really a parking enforcement one where you the driver are effectively guilty until proven innocent.

This worries me as I fear for train users who innocently find themselves having to justify what the ticket inspector is maybe trained to reject as the train operating company sees an opportunity to make a few bob at the same time as dealing with real ticket evaders.

With thanks to Bob for his assistance with this posting.

Sefton Council’s opposition leader on Southport’s loss of rail services

Southport Station

Cllr. John Pugh the Lib Dem Leader of the opposition on Sefton Council and former MP for Southport has hit out at the loss of trains between Southport and Manchester Airport which have been proposed [in the May 2018 timetable] by Northern Trains and Network Rail.

TOWN HAS BEEN LET DOWN

Rail services to Manchester Piccadilly- the university and business sector are being pared back to two to three a day trains- there and back- with the train to Manchester Airport doomed. That’s the result of the new timetables just announced on March 21st by Northern Rail and agreed with Network Rail.

The Southport line to Wigan and Manchester is on schedule to be the only place in the north to LOSE services under Northern Powerhouse plans

Former MP, Cllr. John Pugh stated, “It is hard not feel angry with the way we have been treated and strung along. We have had warm words from Rail Ministers and the Secretary of State for Transport but the downward spiral in our services and connectivity continues just the same.

I have no confidence that Sefton Council or the Merseyside City Region has even broken sweat to fight our corner

We don’t need any more patronising waffle from the government, rail companies or anyone else. The fact is that we are being strung out to dry- a corner of the north that needs to finds its own voice.

We cannot quietly stand by and let our connections with the business quarter of Manchester and the airport just wither.

*****

Editors View:- John is obviously right and I share his skepticism about what the Liverpool City Region and its Transport arm Merseytravel have been doing or indeed not doing to both keep the present level of service on the line and promote Southport’s trains to Wigan, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport. I go back to the first draft of the first ever Liverpool City Region Long Term Rail Strategy where the line did not even get a mention! At the time I was a Sefton Councillor and I pushed the Council to demand that the line be included. That Long Term Rail Strategy has now been updated (October 2017) and surprise surprise the line hardly gets a mention at all again. Must we conclude that rail connectivity for Southport (which is in the Liverpool City Region) to the east and the north of the Town is of no interest to the powers that be? Sadly I think we must!

Southport – Wigan – Manchester Trains suffer appalling cutbacks!

A blogged yesterday about some reasonably good news (extra trains) on the Ormskirk – Preston Line, now the other side of the coin on the Southport – Wigan – Manchester Line where services are in effect being cut back!

Departure board at Southport Station.

Southport to Manchester Airport trains withdrawn

The current service [from Southport to Manchester] is dreadful with consistently poor punctuality, many cancellations, short forming of trains [too few carriages] and disruption of services for overrunning ‘improvement works’ (sic) and as feared the plan is to withdraw the Southport – Airport service for it to be replaced with a Stalybridge – Wigan North Western – Alderley Edge service pattern.

There will be just two morning services from Southport, departing 06.17 and 07.17, to Alderley Edge via Manchester Piccadilly and three return services in the evening:

– 17.19 departure from Piccadilly will not call at Oxford Road but will call at Deansgate.

– 18.18 departure from Piccadilly will call at Oxford Road but will not call at Deansgate.

– 21.27 departure from Piccadilly

All other services will go through Manchester Victoria to and from Leeds and Blackburn. There will be two services from Southport to Victoria departing Southport between 06.30 and 07.00.

All services will call at Gathurst and Meols Cop.

On Sundays there will be one train per hour to/from Blackburn via Victoria.

OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) say they will continue to fight these service reduction proposals because there’s no reason to withdraw services this year. They need community support to take the fight once again to Northern Rail and Network Rail.

My thanks to OPSTA for the information contained in this posting

Another example of the Northern Poorhouse, sorry Powerhouse?

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Merseyrail – RMT Dispute over loss of Guards, strikes and Jeremy

Merseyrail’s new Stadler Trains, to be delivered in a couple of years time, are at the heart of the dispute about driver only operated trains.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43259075

The BBC has an article about the next round of strike action on its web site – see link above

Oh no you might say Robertson’s banging on about those interminable railway strikes again. Well yes he is but from Jeremy’s perspective! You see a couple of days ago I saw a tweet from JC which said this:-

‘This @RMTunion film shows why it is essential to keep guards on our trains. Please share and support this important campaign. #KeepTheGuardOnTheTrain’

Well no problem with the tweet in itself BUT just hang on a minute Jeremy, why did Labour-run Merseytravel order new trains for Merseyrail that are intended to be run without train guards then? The RMT are right about Keeping the guards, in my view, but Labour is complicit in the guards getting axed here on Merseyside.

May I suggest to Jeremy that he tells his comrades on Merseyside that the order for trains meant to run without guards needs to be revised so that they run with train guards, then his Merseyside chums will no longer be embarrassing him.

Pacers are thankfully on their last legs or is that wheels

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42937218

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

An alternative title for this posting could ‘Well John Pugh are you happy now?’ because during his time as MP for Southport John fought to get the appalling Pacer Trains replaced. To be fair many, many other people were on a similar track (sorry about the pun) but John made it onto a BBC North West TV programme about his fight to rid the rails of Pacers.

John has now returned to his political roots as a Sefton Councillor and leads the opposition on Sefton Council.

My previous relevant posting (amongst many!) about Pacers, because it links to the BBC TV programme that John Pugh appeared in, is accessible via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/01/01/calling-for-the-end-to-the-use-of-class-142-pacer-trains-on-our-railways/

John’s contribution to the programme is at about the 12 minute mark.

And here’s a video of the new trains being built in Spain:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-42946339/northern-to-replace-pacers-with-21st-century-trains