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Confusion over Northern rail franchise plans

by Iain Roberts on 2 January, 2020

The Lib Dem team is calling for clarity after confusion over whether Northern is to be stripped of its franchise after years of failing to run a basic decent service. The Manchester Evening News has since reported that there is in fact no firm plan for Northern and the announcement may have simply been an attempt by the government to distract attention from rail fare rises.

Cllr Iain Roberts has said that Northern must lose its franchise, but that this must only be the start of the changes.

“Northern being stripped of its franchise would be a good start, even if it should have happened over a year ago,” said Iain. “But where is the plan to properly fix our railways?”

“We need TPE sorted out – their record is even worse than Northern, we need the DfT to stop trying to micromanage train services from an office in Whitehall, and we need the investment that we’ve been promised for years like platforms 15 & 16 at Piccadilly, improvements at Oxford Road and a station for Cheadle. It seems like a long list, but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the billions being spent on London’s Crossrail.”

“If it turns out that Grant Schapps’ announcement was not genuine, the people of the North will feel betrayed yet again by another Transport minister promising everything and delivering nothing,” Iain added.

   9 Comments

9 Responses

  1. The Oxford Road ‘Castlefield Corridor’ will still continue to cause delays, now all our services go through there

  2. Alan says:

    Everything the Tories say these days is a lie. I’ll believe anything to do with this when it happens. Iain is right though Crossrail spending is risible compared to what would fix the north.

  3. David T says:

    How will changing the franchise improve services? Everything will remain the same – staff, signalling, tracks, trains, albeit in a different livery. Probably also the same management taken on by the new franchise company.
    Last Saturday evening I went to Gatley station to catch a train to Wilmslow only to find that it had been cancelled, at the last minute. I had checked online (National Rail enquiries) before leaving home and it showed as running. I ended up getting a train soon after to Manchester Airport hoping something there would get me to Wilmslow. No luck, I negotiated hard with a taxi and got to Wilmslow for a tenner.
    I found out that services had been reduced at very short notice by driver shortages. So we’ll have a new franchise with the same old poor service. No benefit then.
    Plus ca change!

    • Chris says:

      And this, of course, is why there are so many cars on the roads! Last time I relied on the trains was when jury service forced me to use them. I can assure you from that experience that David’s experience is not a one off!!!!!!

  4. David T says:

    My posting has been removed, why?

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi David – the first time anyone posts from an email address it goes into a moderation queue. This is to stop spammers. Your comment wasn’t removed, it just hadn’t been moderated – simply because I was busy elsewhere. It’s now online.

  5. John M says:

    Iain, I agree with most of what you have said and agree that Northern should be stripped of their franchise. They have consistently not employed enough drivers and guards to cover all the services, especially at weekends. So called ‘planned cancellations’ are the norm especially on Sundays.

    However, I think you are being unfair on TPE. Yes, their record over the past month has been bad, but over the past two years its been much better than Northern’s . TPE have been badly let down by CAF who have build 2 of the 3 new sets of trains. As a consequence they were not ready to introduce the new Liverpool to Edinburgh services or the extension of the Airport to Newcastle services. However, the contract with the DfT says these services have to start in Dec 19. So TPE started them, to avoid a breach of contract, but have had to cancel wholly or in part large numbers of them . In the past few days, TPE have demonstrated they are getting on top of the situation, as the crew training catches up. Look at http://www.journeycheck.com/tpexpress . As I write this there are no full cancellations. The DfT should of allowed a delay, so its right to lay the blame mostly at the government.

    As correctly pointed out, the Castlefield corridor timetable only works in perfect conditions, the slightest issue and large scales disruption follows. The DfT has been sitting on the expansion of the through platforms at Piccadilly, which is urgently needed.

  6. David says:

    Iain, That wasn’t my first post, I’ve posted many times before. Maybe check your software for glitches.

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