Northern Assist – Your inability to run trains is just appalling

Sadly a subject I keep returning to as the troubles with the Northern Assist franchise seem to get deeper when you thought they had already reached rock bottom.

Below is a link to the Lancashire Evening Post date 6th December all about the rail chaos on the Ormskirk – Preston Line.

www.lep.co.uk/news/transport/rail-chaos-leaves-village-stranded-as-every-train-in-a-week-is-cancelled-1-9481152

The lady and quoted in the article was one of the contributors to the OPSTA public meeting I attended and reported on only a few days ago. here’s a link to that previous posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/11/23/northern-trains-could-the-ormskirk-preston-line-be-the-most-poorly-performing-in-the-uk/

A train from Preston pulling into Ormskirk Station.

Chris Jackson Regional Director of Northern is quoted saying this in the LEP article:-

“Cancelling an entire route – as we had to do with the Preston to Ormskirk Line – is not a decision we take lightly, but the unusual circumstances called for extreme measures. The trains which operate the Ormskirk line were those most affected by the autumn conditions, and the route itself was also problematic. When we were unable to operate trains we did provide a reliable rail replacement service which ensured our customers on the line were still able to get where they needed to be.”

His statement raises more questions, such as:-

* So why is the Ormskirk – Preston Line more affect by autumn leaves than any other line that Northen operate?
* Why is the Ormskirk – Preston line ‘problematic’?
* I hear that the rail replacement buses were not reliable and did not stop at each station on the line – Why?

Sorry Northern you are letting travellers down in a very big way and its been going on for far too long. Just sort it or hand the franchise back, enough is enough.

Northern Trains – Could the Ormskirk-Preston Line be the most poorly performing in the UK?

Ormskirk’s Station where Merseyrail and Norther trains meet

Well if it’s not I would hate to be a passenger on one that is even worse.

Last night I attended an open meeting of OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association) and the stories of absolute chaos on this rail route were sad and numerous. An 80-year-old lady told the meeting how she can’t get to hospital appointments in Preston due to cancellations and the fact that some of the rail replacement buses don’t call at all the stations on the line! She lives in Croston and without the train, as she does not drive, getting to Preston is very difficult indeed.

Burscough Junction Station on the Ormskirk – Preston line.

If I’m correctly informed, which I think I am, there have no trains on the line at all this week so far. What’s more, I hear that Northern are resistant to paying for taxis when the trains and rail replacement buses both fail to provide a service.

Northern are supposed to be operating an hourly service on the line since the May 2018 timetable changes but it looks like they are interpreting this as 1 a week! We heard stories of passengers missing exams, having to take time off work or even getting to the stage where their jobs may be at risk because of this poorly performing rail franchise.

Unsurprisingly, Northern is reputed to be losing a lot of money on the franchise and there seems little confidence in those who know about the local rail industry that anything is going to change much in the foreseeable future. Will Northern have to pull out of the franchise, or will it have to be taken away from them?

It’s a sorry story indeed but it is ruining the lives of passengers who rely on Northern’s trains to get to work, to hospital, do their shopping or just run their day to day lives and frankly it is just not good enough. And the big question is what are the MP’s representing constituents along the Ormskirk – Preston line doing about it? One suggestion at the meeting was to try to replicate what Tim Farron the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale did when Northern failed spectacularly on the Lakes Line from Oxenhome to Windermere – he helped organise an alternative rail provider and made the DfT/Northern pay for it.

OPSTA are going to be banging the drum very hard indeed to get local politicians to take action. Oh, and by the way, there’s a clear suspicion that when Northern is in trouble they will often choose the Ormskirk – Preston Line to cancel trains – It would be interesting to get to the bottom of that train of thought.

Northern Rail’s meltdown and its impact on Merseyside and beyond

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/mersey-commuters-demand-more-government-14813870

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its web site – see link above

Yes we all know how badly the Northern Rail meltdown has affected negatively the lives of train users across the north of England but it’s worth saying yet again that the troubles actually predate the now infamous May timetable changes. Users of the Ormskirk – Preston route were seeing far too many cancellations before May and Southport – Manchester travellers were suffering often overcrowded and unreliable trains. May’s timetable changes just made it all much worse.

Southport – Manchester trains now virtually all go into at Manchester Victoria Station whereas before they were split between Victoria and Piccadilly. The loss of trains into Piccadilly is a huge issue to those using this line who work in the business area around Piccadilly.

Labour MP Lisa Nandy made a big fuss in House of Commons the other day as her frustration boiled over at the utter mess of train services on her local line – The Southport to Manchester Line. Lib Dem MP Tim Farron has launched a petition to try to get Northern sacked as the train operating company on his Lakes Line from Oxenholme to Windermere, indeed working with local residents he has brought in a heritage railway company to run the trains that Northern can’t/won’t run.

Northern Fail – Could they less guilty than we thought?

www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jun/18/northern-trains-operator-asked-for-timetable-changes-to-be-delayed?CMP=share_btn_link

The Guardian has the report on its web site – see link above

So according to this report Northern say they tried to get the latest timetable changes put back but were refused by Network Rail and others in rail industry. If true this shines a clear light on what was going on prior to the meltdown when the timetable changes were brought in in May. Makes you wonder about the decision making process in the rail industry if they can seemingly forge ahead with something they collectively have been told won’t work!

With thanks to Bob for the lead to this posting.

If Northern can’t run trains then West Coast can!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tfD44iwqs4&t=34s

The video is on You Tube – see link above

So as the Northern Trains franchise fails in a shambolic way just look what is happening on the Lakes Line (Oxenholme to Windermere) where locals have taken things into their own hands and embarrassed the railway industry and Department for Transport wholesale.

Reminds me a bit of the Ealing Comedy Titfield Thunderbolt film

Northern Trains – It just gets worse! –

Ormskirk Station – The train in the foreground is Preston bound. The one behind it is Liverpool bound.

Northern has stated unequivocally there will be no Sunday services during June and July on the Ormskirk – Preston Line! It has been only a couple of weeks since we were told that Sunday running trains (unusual for this particular line) would be put on to help combat the closure of Liverpool Lime Street Station! My previous posting refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2018/05/27/summer-sunday-service-schedule-preston-ormskirk-line/

The Weekday (Monday-Fridays) trains on the same line are often being replaced by buses presently. An Optimistic scenario is that trains may be back all day from Monday 18th or that it might be a staged return to trains. However, the Route Director is saying the emergency timetable for Ormskirk – Preston will remain in place until end of July unless they complete driver training sooner. Saturdays: it appears to be trains running all day.

And the business leaders of Northern still have jobs it seems, whatever next.

With thanks to OPSTA for the lead to this posting although the opinions expressed are my own.