“Train staff turn catwalk models as Northern unveils new-look uniforms”

“Train staff turn catwalk models as Northern unveils new-look uniforms”

[from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 22nd September 2017]

Its not just our local trains getting a fresher look – it’s the uniforms too


Trains operator Northern swapped the rail tracks for the runway when staff launched their new uniform.

The outfits, which will be Northern’s conductors, drivers and station teams, was launched as part of a modernisation programme by the company which will also see 281 new carriages enter service by 2020 to replace its ageing fleet of Pacer trains.

Manchester Victoria station hosted a fashion show with eight of Northern’s team members modelling the new look.

The rollout of new uniforms began this week and all employees will be fully kitted out by the end of November. Staff can chose from a range of garments, including jacket, short sleeve or long-sleeved shirt, jumper, cardigan, dress top, skirt, trousers and polo shirt.

Daniel Edwards, head of customer experience at the firm, which runs a number of services to and from Huddersfield, said:

“Northern is modernising to transform rail travel in the north of England. By 2020 we will have new trains, more seats, more services and an improved customer experience. Now we will have a new look for our staff to complement our modern facilities.

“The new uniform, which was designed in collaboration with staff from start to finish, will give our customer-facing colleagues a fresh look, make them easily recognisable

Nigel Valentine, who modelled the new look at the show and works in a Northern ticket office, said:

“I am so happy I volunteered to take part in this. We have been practising our runway walks for a couple of weeks and some dance moves were even thrown in there to entertain the crowds even more.”


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“Government invests in northern digital railway plans to improve trans-Pennine journeys”

Only a cynic would suggest that the main or even sole purpose of this press release is to deflect attention from all the broken promises about investment.

[Department for Transport press release, published 22 September 2017]

“TransPennine route will be the first digitally controlled intercity rail line in the country”


The government is developing plans for Britain’s first digital intercity railway in the north, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced today (22 September 2017) as the government invests a record £13 billion in improving journeys across the region.

As part of the Great North Rail Project, major upgrades are being developed for the TransPennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York from 2022 – to slash journey times between Leeds and Manchester to 40 minutes.

Digital signalling technology is already in operation on the London Underground, and Network Rail will now develop options to make the TransPennine route the first digitally controlled intercity rail line in the country.

Network Rail will receive up to £5 million to develop proposals for embedding digital technology between Manchester and York, to help us deliver a more reliable and safer railway. This includes looking at a system of advanced train traffic management – so that a computer works out how to route the trains most efficiently along the line.

This government has launched the biggest modernisation programme of railways in the north since the steam age – and we are investing £40 billion in our network across the country.

The government is also bringing HS2 – Britain’s new railway – to the north, the Pacer trains are being scrapped by the end of 2019 and major investment in motorways is also underway across the region.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

We are about to see a digital revolution in our railways, and we want the north to lead the way.

New technology on the Manchester to York route will help us deliver a more reliable and safer railway, with more space for passengers.

Travel will be transformed across the north as we invest £13 billion to improve journeys, expand our motorways, scrap the outdated Pacer trains, and spend £55 billion on HS2 to cut journey times between our great northern cities.

Developing proposals for digital-control on the TransPennine route is to be paid for from a £450 million digital railway fund announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement last year.

On the London Underground 3 lines already have in-cab signalling, which has meant trains can safely run closer together.

Also in the capital, the Thameslink programme will use digital technologies so 24 trains per hour can run through the centre of the city from December 2018 on just 2 tracks with 2 platforms. Crossrail trains will also run with in-cab signalling.

Work to deliver improvements to the TransPennine railway line have already begun.

The Great North Rail Project has already delivered improved services between Liverpool and Manchester, with the fastest journey cut by 15 minutes, new direct services between Manchester Airport and Glasgow, and the upgrade of Manchester Victoria station.

The government is working with Rail North and councils across the region on the project, and Network Rail is working on plans for the upgrade.

The government is also investing £55 billion in HS2 which will slash journey times between Leeds and Birmingham to 57 minutes from 1 hour 58 minutes today. Journeys between Manchester and London will be reduced to 1 hour and 8 minutes from 2 hours and 8 minutes today.

All of the Pacer trains which run on Northern trains will be phased out by the end of 2019 and sent to the scrapyard, as the government delivers a 21st century revolution to transport.


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SMART meeting, 20th September

The next SMART meeting  will be taking place at 19:00 on Wednesday 20th September 2017 at Slaithwaite Civic Hall

Agenda will include feedback and responses from TPE  & Northern consultations on the May 2018 timetable, and report back on meeting with Network Rail.

Looking forward to seeing those of you who can make it

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Hammond interview: ‘Northern Powerhouse is a 30 year task’

At last – a government minister who has recognised that it’s not ok to make local train services worse in order to provide faster journey times from city centre to city centre.

Hammond interview: ‘Northern Powerhouse is a 30 year task’

[from The Yorkshire Post, 5 September 2017]

The main trans-Pennine rail route connecting Leeds to Manchester could yet be electrified, according to Chancellor Philip Hammond. Hammond leaves door open on Yorkshire devolution Mr Hammond insisted no final decisions have been taken on trans-Pennine electrification and all options for improving journeys are being considered. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling prompted an outcry before the summer when he scrapped electrification of the Midland Mainline between Nottingham and Sheffield and later suggested the long-promised electrification of the trans-Pennine route could be downgraded.

A summit of northern leaders in Leeds last month called for full electrification and a clear Government commitment to develop a high speed rail link in the longer term.

Mr Hammond told The Yorkshire Post:

“Just to be clear no decisions have been taken on electrification, the Government’s position hasn’t changed.”

He said Network Rail was looking at “different options” for improving journeys on the trans-Pennine route.

“My own view is, and I was transport secretary at the very beginning of my ministerial career, my own view is that we should start from outputs and work backwards.

“What are we trying to deliver? On this particular route we are trying to deliver an increased frequency, higher capacity, shorter journey times and greater reliability.

“That may well be delivered through electrification, that may well be the way to do that, but I think we should be clear that what we are trying to deliver is a result for passengers not some conceptual thing based on inputs.

“It is a difficult piece of railway between Manchester and Leeds and people won’t want to sacrifice the benefits of local services stopping at the intermediate stations but at the same time they want faster journey times overall between Manchester and Leeds,” he said.

The controversy over rail electrification led to wider questions from council leaders on both sides of the Pennines over the Government’s commitment to the so-called Northern Powerhouse. What does ‘devolution’ mean and why have the politicians of Yorkshire taken so long to sort themselves out? Mr Hammond’s comments on electrification and his similarly conciliatory tone on Yorkshire devolution made during a visit to Leeds yesterday appeared designed to try and draw a line under a summer of damaging headlines for the Government. Earlier in the day the Chancellor had met the metro-mayors of Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Tees Valley where he promised the “commitment” to the Northern Powerhouse idea remains.

“Northern Powerhouse is not going to be one year or one parliament, it is a very long term project the objective of which is to get productivity levels in the northern cities up to the levels we see in London and the South-East,” he said.

“Doing that will do two things, it will help close the productivity gap with our foreign competitors, very important for our national economy, and it will help to close the North-South gap in incomes which is very important for national and social cohesion.

“Getting this right is a big part of our economic challenge for the next 20, 30 years, it’s that sort of timescale. We are not going to deliver this overnight.”

Mr Hammond is expected to set out more detail of the Government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse idea in the Budget this autumn when he may also review its approach to public sector pay. Strict limits on public sector pay rises became an issue in this year’s general election after an NHS worker questioned Theresa May in a television debate broadcast from York. Mr Hammond described public sector pay as a “complicated, dynamic, balancing act” which needed to protect taxpayers while ensuring public services remain “sustainable”.


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