Rail up­grades are still way off track

Busi­ness leader’s plea to im­prove ‘shock­ing’ rail ser­vice be­tween Scar­bor­ough and York

The Scarborough News - - FRONT PAGE - by Martina Moscariell­o martina.moscariell­[email protected] Twit­ter: @m__­moscariell­o

At a time when rail ser­vices in Scar­bor­ough should be trans­formed, pas­sen­gers have been hit by yet more set­backs.

The long-awaited half hourly ser­vice to and from York, which was due to launch next month, has been pushed back, and new five-car­riage trains par­tially rolled out at the end of the sum­mer have a tech­ni­cal fault that means they have been re­called.

As of this month, four years af­ter the fran­chise agree­ment with North­ern and Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press was made, vis­i­tors, res­i­dents and com­muters trav­el­ling to and from Scar­bor­ough via York are still re­ly­ing on one train per hour, of­ten run­ning late or not at all.

Busi­ness lead­ers fed up with the poor qual­ity of our rail ser­vices are say­ing “enough is enough” and are ask­ing for your help to de­mand a bet­ter deal.

T he 2015 rail fran­chise agree­ment promised to bring bet­ter jour­neys to thou­sands of pas­sen­gers across the North: more seats, more trains and “world class” rail ser­vices. But four years down the line, those trav­el­ling to and from Scar­bor­ough via York are still re­ly­ing on one hourly ser­vice, of­ten plagued by de­lays and can­cel­la­tions.

James Hodg­son, owner of the White Lodge Ho­tel in Filey, is among the thou­sands of pas­sen­gers of­ten caught up in the dis­rup­tion.

The 62-year-old, who says “enough is enough”, is cam­paign­ing to see Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press stripped of its fran­chise – due to end in 2023 – and for an al­ter­na­tive ser­vice provider to take over the Scar­bor­ough to York route.

He said: “Ev­ery­body I speak to is ab­so­lutely fed up, I haven’t spo­ken to one per­son in six months who hasn’t been can­celled at least once if not dozens of times. A friend miss­ing his con­nec­tion to Lon­don, my brother’s mother in law stuck in Liver­pool, there are thou­sands of sto­ries and it can­not con­tinue for an­other three years. It’s shock­ing and it af­fects ev­ery­body, reg­u­lar trav­ellers who com­mute to work and those who travel for plea­sure.”

As a hote­lier, Mr Hodg­son sees the im­pact rail woes have on tourism and with the A64 still wait­ing to be up­graded, some of his guests say it’s eas­ier to travel to Northum­ber­land than to the York­shire Coast. He is now urg­ing other lead­ers to join his call for ac­tion to de­mand a bet­ter deal for vis­i­tors and res­i­dents alike.

“Un­less the busi­ness com­mu­nity comes to­gether to do some­thing about this we’re go­ing to be left be­hind while places with bet­ter trans­port links see their econ­omy de­velop and progress.

“All I’m ask­ing for is a half hourly shut­tle ser­vice to York from Scar­bor­ough and back. Once peo­ple are in York there’s loads of choices, those who work there will just stay in York and those who need to con­tinue their jour­ney can get on a dif­fer­ent train to Manch­ester or Leeds. At least we won’t have peo­ple stranded at York or Scar­bor­ough be­cause there’s a cow on the line at Staly­bridge or in­dus­trial ac­tion at Hud­der­s­field.”

Janet Jef­fer­son, Pres­i­dent of the Scar­bor­ough Cham­ber of Trade, echoed Mr Hodg­son’s call for an ef­fi­cient half hourly ser­vice, ad­ding that the cur­rent way trains are run has a knock-on ef­fect on the town’s econ­omy.

“It’s dev­as­tat­ing and it puts peo­ple off be­cause even if they get here fine, they might not be able to get back. I of­ten go to Northaller­ton and coaches are al­ways full and trains can of­ten be can­celled be­cause they’re held up in Hud­der­s­field or Manch­ester.

“Our main link is York and they do need to im­prove the ser­vice be­cause it’s hap­pen­ing more and more and I do think it has an ef­fect on the econ­omy.”

Last month, the sec­ond worst this year so far ac­cord­ing to data-scrap­ing web­site trains.im, 10% of ser­vices on Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press’ North Route were ei­ther very late (by over 30 min­utes) or can­celled – 14% were late.

Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press has apol­o­gised for the in­con­ve­nience caused.

‘All I’m ask­ing for is a half hourly shut­tle ser­vice to York from Scar­bor­ough and back’

A spokesper­son said: “The pre­vi­ous week­end saw a high num­ber of ar­eas flooded across our net­work which had a huge knock-on ef­fect to our ser­vices. This, cou­pled with the ac­cel­er­ated train­ing pro­gramme that we are tem­po­rar­ily run­ning for our driv­ers and con­duc­tors as we pre­pare to roll out our new fleet over the com­ing weeks, meant that we had to can­cel some ser­vices.”

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