Welcome to RAIL’s new fact-checking service, which aims to answer your questions, debunk the myths, and get to the unvarnished truth behind some of the most common claims and queries we spot on social media. Storm in a teacup
RAIL’s verdict: This tweet from Grand Central director Sean English managed to provoke a furious reaction from ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan, who slammed GC for using “unpaid volunteers to provide the services for passengers which it is unwilling to provide itself”.
He added: “There are important safety and security issues here. Mr English wants unpaid slaves to man his galley.”
RAIL put this accusation to GC Managing Director Richard McClean. He defended the award-winning scheme, which has run for eight years and “does not replace any paid staff in safety roles or any other capacity” at this otherwise unmanned station.
The final word on the matter goes to RAIL contributor, Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) awards judge, and regular Grand Central user Paul Bigland, who reminds us that every year hundreds of people voluntarily put in tens of thousands of hours of their free time to make life better for passengers. These include Britain in Bloom groups, local businesses, rail staff, station Friends’ groups and individual station adopters.
He said: “The GC Ambassador scheme is just one example of many. That ASLEF singles them out as somehow different is bizarre.”
Highway to Hull
RAIL’s verdict: Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely right that plans first mooted by Hull Trains in 2013 to electrify the 36-mile route from the East Coast Main Line at Temple Hirst Junction to Hull Paragon via Selby were finally rejected by former Prime Minister David Cameron’s administration in November 2016.
With the project progressing to Network Rail’s GRIP Stage 3 (option selection) in 2014, government support for the partially privately funded scheme eventually crumbled after costs more than doubled to £200 million, and a wider policy was adopted by the Department for Transport to procure large numbers of bi-mode trains as a less disruptive alternative to electrification.
It’s worth noting that Hull Trains’ primary motivation was not journey time reductions, which were not thought to materially change as a result of electrification, but strong environmental benefits, reduced operating costs, and a need to replace unreliable Class 180s.
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