Annual report to SMART 2009
July 22 2009
I am sure that I am getting boring year on year, making a report to the members and supporters of SMART. But every year when I think that we have reached the end of the line, I am reminded by fellow travellers that passengers need an organisation to continue campaigning for better services.
Before I go any further, I would like to thank my colleagues on the SMART management committee who meet so regularly throughout the year, Tony Pogson, Elisabeth Wilson, our treasurer David Hagerty, our secretary and for part of the last year Carol Massey. Carol did a wonderful job as our secretary for several years and is much missed. We are always looking for new members to join us, so please give it a thought. Hopefully our new website will improve communications and encourage more people to participate.
Smart continues to have as its main aim; the improvement of local services for both commuters and social travellers. So we are not much interested in the travails of the likes of National Express except to say that the collapse of two franchises in less than two years on the same line is more than coincidence.
Our focus continues to be the services provided by Northern Rail and by Transpennine (TPE).
In the case of Northern, we continually press them to improve their ticketing. It was a revelation to find out that GMPTE( Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive) assists operators with station improvements, hence the booking office at Greenfield. If GMPTE can assist Northern in providing a staffed ticket office there ( and other stations) why cannot the same be provided at Marsden and Slaithwaite.
The state of both stations remain poor, we shall soon be celebrating the 30 years since the construction of our plywood edifice at Slaithwaite in 1981. Marsden continues to be the most inaccessible station in the country. Has a wheelchair ever made it to platform 1?
We have continued to campaign for better information for passengers, with very limited success, there is better signing at Huddersfield, but now they have problems with their computers. We were very disappointed when Metro told us that they had already set up the two information boards in the Colne Valley, one at the bus stop by the Star and the other in Marsden. We were informed that there was no more money for any more. Yet obscure villages like Ashton under Lyne have had modern information boards for several years.
Huddersfield promises to be a better story in the coming years with the approval of changes to the station enabling the construction of the lift and underpass from platform 1 to platform 4/8. The improvements to the booking hall will be welcome.
With the continued support of local people we will continue to press all the agencies that comprise our rail system, Northern, TPE, Metro and Network Rail to improve their performance.
Over the coming year two major issues will come to dominate rail travel locally. The first being the proximity of the termination of franchises,2012 in the case of Trans-Pennine and 2013 in the case of Northern. But Northern has already invoked the support agreement because of the reduction in traffic( the cap and collar agreement). TPE has told us that they are “still reporting robust revenue”.
The second issue and connected is how the demise of public sector funding will affect the rail system. It is interesting that Lord Adonis has announced that the government will agree to the electrification of the route to the west from London. Let us hope that he does not forget that there is a world north of the Thames.
In the meantime we will continue to suggest to Northern and Metro that they find ways for passengers to buy tickets.
Tony Bowers July 2009
Minutes of SMART meeting held 11th May 2022
Rob Walker (Chair)
David Hagerty (Treasurer)
Gary Godolphin (secretary)
Opening and welcome:
Rob welcomed everyone to the meeting. Despite a period of hiatus Gary Godolphin will continue to act as secretary and David as treasurer.
Item 1: Current TPE service performance and response to concerns
David and Christian both gave an update. Performance over recent weeks has been variable. Poor performance seems to have shifted from morning/ daytime services to evening services. We did see some morning services (particularly the Hull trains) being cancelled.
Instances of the last train of the day from Manchester to SMART stations have been cancelled – often at short notice which could potentially lead to passengers being stranded. The Manchester to Huddersfield daytime stopper has more or less held up – it is the Hull services that have had the greatest disruption.
In percentage terms current performance is as bad as 2018 – just not as evident for most rail passengers due to the times of the services being cancelled.
TPE are short staffed – also the continuing work to rule is impacting weekend services. Hull is a small depot which is also impacting these services.
David has had email correspondence from Daniel Fox, Community Manager at TPE regarding the setting up of a meeting with Network Rail and also in response to concerns raised by David on behalf of SMART.
Response was felt by the group to be less than satisfactory as it was very non-committal in regard to customer satisfaction and addressing concerns. It outlined some of the inhibitors around stop orders and replacement bus services but did not really offer solutions to those barriers. Also focus of planning for bus replacement seems to be on getting from Manchester or Leeds to Marsden/Slaithwaite with less realisation that people want to travel Marsden/Slaithwaite to Manchester/ Leeds and not knowing when or where bus replacement is due.
This has been brought to the attention of Mick Sasse (Rail Technical Officer for WYCA) who will be raising with TPE (to note: it is WYCA’s aspiration that all WY stations have half hourly services) . Mark Ashmore will be doing the same with the rail lead for Greater Manchester.
The group felt that Tracy Brabin would be a useful contact for the group both as a local resident and as WY Mayor.
The group felt that the time is ripe to write to MP and involve ward councillors.
AP1: Christian to draft letter to Jason McCartney
A meeting needs to be arranged with the ward councillors – specifically to look at the issue of lack of disability access at Marsden.
Mark and David as SHRUG chair and deputy chair are arranging a meeting with TPE and NR to look at capacity.
There has been a rebranding of the Mossley group – they are now known as MORAG – Mossley Rail Action Group.
It may also be useful to engage with local news media – more for our visibility than anything else at this time. The sad loss of Tom Richmond (Yorkshire Post comment editor) who was a champion for Yorkshire was noted.
Item 2: 2022 Timetable
There have been 2 rounds of timetable consultation (the Manchester Recovery Task Force – MRTF) that could have given Slaithwaite and Marsden a half hourly service but this has been removed due to opposition from civic and business interests in Hull as it was perceived that it would add to journey time to and from the city.
David pointed out that although the stops for Slaithwaite and Marsden are no longer showing in the draft timetable issued for consultation the arrival/ departure times for Huddersfield/ Manchester remain unchanged – thus the potential to build stops for our stations in.
Christian stated there is definitely potential for 2x trains an hour (which could also be on the Scarborough service). The key enablers as far as TPE are there:
- The path is free
- No staff training required
- No staff issues
- No fuelling costs.
The group agreed that any representation to TPE must be as part of SHRUG and that we should have one agreed aim – which is 2x trains per hour across the stations. Once we have affected this we can then move onto the next priority.
Need to consider rephrasing our position – what can we do as a group to support and work with TPE to achieve our goals.
AP2: David to organise meeting with Transport for the North.
Item 3: Integrated Rail Plan Update
There has been a lot of press coverage, some consultation and conversation around this – especially as it seems to suggest that the line will stop in Marsden. However, realistically this plan is unlikely to happen – at least in the foreseeable future.
A question was asked about Huddersfield and the TRU work taking place at Ravensthorpe which will potentially mean Huddersfield station closing. It is unclear currently if this is going to be ‘big bang’ or a longer period of disruption at weekends. Uncertainty as to who is going to take the Kirklees Strategic Planning role but again a useful point of contact.
The likelihood is that some services could terminate from the west at Marsden – if that is the case then that could provide leverage for station improvements.
Item 4: AOB
Jean talked about raising the profile of the group. Perhaps need to restart the twitter account. Need to expand the participation of the group
AP3 – Gary to relaunch the twitter account and ensure all minutes etc. are shared on Facebook.
AP4 – Rob to invite ward councillors to attend next meeting.
Next meeting to be arranged for 6 weeks’ time. Propose 22nd June 19:00