Calls to end misery on our rail ser­vices

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

PRES­SURE is grow­ing on rail chiefs to put an end to the “daily misery” suf­fered by pas­sen­gers across the North.

Al­most eight months on from ma­jor timetable changes, train users are still en­dur­ing chaos with ser­vices of­ten can­celled leav­ing them stranded.

Pas­sen­gers at Slaith­waite and Mars­den are some of the worst hit with trains fre­quently late or aban­doned.

Mean­while, train firm North­ern is still in dis­pute with trade union the RMT, who have re­fused to lift a month of Satur­day strikes amid a row about the role of the guard or con­duc­tor.

De­spite gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion last week say­ing it would sup­port North­ern keep­ing a sec­ond per­son on the train, talks be­tween the union and the rail firm have again bro­ken down.

The RMT said the gov­ern­ment had been “grand­stand­ing” with­out com­mit­ting to fund­ing the staffing and ac­cused North­ern of squan­der­ing a golden op­por­tu­nity to make progress.

RMT gen­eral sec­re­tary Mick Cash said: “Frankly, it is ludicrous that no thought has been given to fund­ing the so-called “com­mit­ments” broad­cast by the Depart­ment for Trans­port in re­la­tion to this dis­pute.

“In­stead of lay­ing into the union at Prime Minister’s Ques­tions, Theresa May should be forc­ing her min­is­ters and the fran­chise hold­ers to start talk­ing se­ri­ously about the ac­tual prac­ti­cal­i­ties at the de­liv­ery end of the ser­vice.

“It is deeply dis­ap­point­ing that the com­pany has failed this week to meet the union’s call to move the is­sues for­wards. As a re­sult the ac­tion con­tin­ues as planned.”

North­ern’s deputy man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Richard Al­lan, said they had gone into the talks with an “open mind” and wished to re­sume talks.

Trans­port for the North - a body of 20 au­thor­i­ties and busi­ness lead­ers slammed the state of the rail ser­vice.

In a state­ment it said it was time that train op­er­a­tors North­ern and Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press de­liv­ered on the step change in per­for­mance they had been promis­ing since last sum­mer.

Mean­while, the Of­fice for Rail and Road (ORR) has pub­lished phase two of its in­quiry into the timetable scan­dal, which rec­om­mends greater scru­tiny of the in­ter­de­pen­den­cies be­tween timeta­bles, fran­chises, in­fra­struc­ture and rolling stock.

ORR and In­quiry Chair­man, Pro­fes­sor Stephen Glais­ter said: “Pas­sen­gers were let down by the rail in­dus­try on 20 May and the weeks that fol­lowed.

“We found sys­temic fail­ures that needed to be re­solved in or­der to re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity that pas­sen­gers have to en­dure these con­di­tions again.

Our rec­om­men­da­tions will now mean that in ev­ery pro­ject, im­pact on pas­sen­gers will be a cen­tral con­sid­er­a­tion – as it should al­ways be.

“We are pleased with the improvements that have been made so far and ex­pect our rec­om­men­da­tions, which can be im­ple­mented im­me­di­ately, to bring more ben­e­fits.

“More fun­da­men­tal changes are needed in the longer term, which is the sub­ject of the Wil­liams Re­view. The ORR will con­trib­ute to that Re­view.”

Trans­port for the North’s state­ment said: “De­spite as­sur­ances things would get bet­ter, pas­sen­gers still find them­selves on over­crowded trains and un­able to de­pend on ser­vices.

“Mem­bers have con­sis­tently pushed to hold the in­dus­try to ac­count and re­store con­fi­dence in the net­work.”

Yesterday, they re­it­er­ated their po­si­tion that there should be a sec­ond per­son on trains and that North­ern and RMT should get back into ne­go­ti­a­tions in the in­ter­est of pas­sen­gers. They also wel­comed the Gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion that it would help iden­tify fund­ing for this mea­sure.

Trans­port for the North’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive, Barry White, said: “The sen­ti­ment sur­round­ing what the North’s pas­sen­gers are go­ing through re­mains.

“Per­for­mance lev­els are still poor and the strength of feel­ing that some­thing needs to change is undi­luted.

“We’re act­ing, pro­vid­ing a solid voice for the North; en­sur­ing the is­sues faced are prom­i­nent in on­go­ing re­views of the in­dus­try; and se­cur­ing com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages for those af­fected. There can be no let-up in the pace of change.

“Trans­port for the North is do­ing its bit, mak­ing the case for bet­ter in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture. But we’re also hold­ing the train op­er­a­tors to ac­count.

“The De­cem­ber timetable must now start to de­liver on the prom­ises of the op­er­a­tors to in­crease re­li­a­bil­ity.”

Mem­bers also heard about a £15m en­hance­ment pack­age for Net­work Rail to spend in the North.

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