Minutes of SMART meetings

Annual report to SMART

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 Dave Hegarty, 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 that 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 Lyme 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 from AGM in 2009

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