Engineering Works, 14th to 29th April

Buses replace trains between Stalybridge and Victoria on weekdays 16th to 27th April.

Buses replace trains between Huddersfield and Victoria on weekends 14/15, 21/22 & 28/29 April.

At the moment we do not know whether Northern will also withdraw some of the peak hour services between Huddersfield and Slaithwaite/Marsden (as they did last time there was a weekday closure between Stalybridge & Victoria), nor whether they will overlook the need for any publicity at Huddersfield/Marsden/Slaithwaite for changes.

Apparently it’s all part of “The Great North Rail Project”. Any bit of engineering work, no matter how trivial, seems to be badged as “The Great North Pail Project”, though no-one seems able to say what the Great North Rail Project is, what it involves, and what will be achieved by its completion.

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“Grayling: progress on Transpennine route upgrade and Crossrail 2 to advance in lockstep”

Yet another re-announcement of something which was supposedly approved in 2012 (or was it 2011, it’s so hard to keep track of so many promises all of which came to nothing) for completion in 2018, but this time with a total absence of detail. You’ll forgive us a heavy dose of scepticism.

[Department for Transport press release, 2 March 2018, follows.]

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced today (2 March 2018) that he expects a £3 billion programme of upgrades to the Transpennine route to begin from spring 2019, as an Independent Affordability Review is established to ensure the affordability of Crossrail 2.

Speaking in Leeds, Mr Grayling said that whilst work is underway on the key route between Manchester, Leeds and York, he expects Network Rail to begin investing the £3 billion into an ambitious rolling programme of works as soon as possible.

Mr Grayling also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring transport improvements across the country advances in lockstep, announcing that an Independent Affordability Review, commissioned jointly by the Department for Transport and Transport for London, has been established to ensure that Crossrail 2 demonstrates affordability and value for money to the taxpayer.

The Transport Secretary also said he will work with local authorities along the Transpennine route to discuss how to maximise the benefits of the £3 billion investment, such as creating new stations to increase access to the railway and finding opportunities for housing development.

At the Transport for the Northern Powerhouse conference, Mr Grayling said:

I want to realise passenger benefits from the £3 billion we have ring-fenced for the Pennine route as fast as possible.

Network Rail has already begun detailed designs, and provided us with options for the Transpennine Route Upgrade to meet the objectives we’ve set out – for journey times, capacity and reliability.

That – in turn – has given us an opportunity to undertake the work in phases starting as soon as spring next year.

This is not just about meeting rising demand for train travel. It’s about transforming journeys too.

The Transport Secretary also said he will work with local authorities along the Transpennine route to discuss how to maximise the benefits of the £3 billion investment, such as creating new stations to increase access to the railway and finding opportunities for housing development.

The Independent Affordability Review into Crossrail 2, commissioned jointly by the Department for Transport and Transport for London, is an important step in developing the project.

It will focus on the affordability of the project, ensuring the project learns from the best practice exhibited by projects like Crossrail, and that those who stand to benefit from new infrastructure contribute to funding it. Mike Gerrard, former managing director of Thames Tideway Tunnel, has agreed to lead the review, ensuring the public gets an affordable scheme that is fair to the UK taxpayer.

Chair of the Independent Affordability Review, Mike Gerrard said:

Crossrail 2 has the potential to relieve congestion and unlock housing, jobs and development to support future growth in London, but it is imperative that it can be delivered in an affordable way that is fair to both the London public and the wider UK taxpayer.

Major projects work best when independent reviews, drawing on a wealth of experience, help move them from plans to spades in the ground. I am delighted to chair this crucial review and I look forward to working with the Department for Transport and Transport for London to ensure that Crossrail 2 is the best project it can be.

Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, said:

We welcome the government’s backing for infrastructure projects of national importance such as Crossrail 2 and are pleased to be working with the Department for Transport on the Independent Affordability Review led by Mike Gerrard. This is an important step forward for a project that is vital for London, as reflected in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, and for the whole of the south-east region.

The Review is expected to conclude in summer 2018.


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“Disbelief and discontent over rail timetable delays”

Here’s the reason why confirmation and publication of the revised timetable is to be delayed, probably for about three weeks.

The draft timings were previously published on various websites, including Open Train Times, but these have now been removed.

Article from BBC website, 23rd February 2018, follows.

Disbelief and discontent’ over rail timetable delays

Passenger groups have reacted angrily to news that hundreds of train timetables are likely to be published later than usual.

Rail users are normally told about new timetables 12 weeks in advance, enabling them to book cheap tickets.

But the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has announced that over the next six months passengers may get as little as four weeks’ notice of new train times.

It blamed a huge number of timetable changes coming up in May.

The change will happen from this Sunday, 12 weeks ahead of the new Spring timetable, and is likely to affect travellers for at least six months.

Passenger groups predicted there would be “real disbelief and discontent” about the lack of advance information.

“Passengers have been badly let down and will be deeply frustrated that they can’t make plans with certainty,”

said Anthony Smith, the chief executive of Transport Focus.

“They are also at risk of paying more.”

Cheap advance fares usually become available three months before travel, meaning that some passengers could book their tickets, but find that cheaper fares become available nearer the time of travel.

Some train operators are said to be furious about the late publication of timetables.

The Office of Rail and Road – the industry regulator – said it would be conducting an informal enquiry into what had gone wrong.

In theory it has the power to fine Network Rail, although that would be seen as a measure of last resort.

The RDG – which represents both the train operators and Network Rail – said the May timetable change was “the biggest in living memory”, with the rescheduling of almost four million services, seven times more than usual.

It also said there were significant delays with engineering works, such as the electrification of the line between Manchester and Preston.

“We recognise this will be inconvenient for some passengers and can only apologise that we’ve had to take this step,”

said Jo Kaye a managing director at Network Rail.

The RDG said the problems would only affect passengers “in a small number of instances”. Normally only 2% of passengers book more than six weeks in advance.

It is advising rail users to book their tickets as usual, and then claim a refund if a cheaper fare is subsequently available.

Those whose train service is cancelled will be eligible for a full refund.


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Strike Day Timetable, Saturday 3rd March

There’s going to be another strike affecting Northern Rail, this time on Saturday 3rd March.

This time round, Northern will be providing an hourly train service calling at all stations between Stalybridge and Huddersfield, broadly between 0800 & 1700. So at least there won’t be a repeat of the replacement bus stop debacle.

Change at Stalybridge for Piccadilly. Stalybridge to Victoria was going to be closed for engineering works over that weekend anyway.

Update 26/02/2018: The timetables are now Northern’s website at—Huddersfield.pdf

SMART takes no view on the merits or otherwise of the positions taken by the RMT and by Arriva Northern in this dispute.

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