“‘Great British Railways is dead’: rail industry at lowest ebb since the days of Railtrack”

“When you travel in the trains there’s a feeling that no one really cares if the trains are late, or where you need to go.”

Christian Wolmar

We can identify with that.

Link to Guardian article is

‘Great British Railways is dead’: rail industry at lowest ebb since the days of Railtrack | Rail industry | The Guardian

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Cancelled due to a short-notice change to the timetable.”

“Cancelled due to a short-notice change to the timetable.”

This is a new explanation for cancelled trains, used both in passenger announcements on stations and in online information such as Journeycheck.

It’s not just TPE who are using this excuse. All the train operating companies are using it, which indicates that it’s not an initiative by TPE and its use is down to a decision either by the Department for Transport or the Rail Delivery Group.

If it sounds meaningless, then it probably is. All they are saying is

“it’s cancelled because it’s cancelled.”

Fortunately we can translate.

“It’s cancelled because of staff shortages.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Engineering Works and Bus Replacement, 10th & 11th September

TPE will be running a bus replacement service both directions between Manchester Piccadilly and Huddersfield, also calling at Stalybridge, Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden, Slaithwaite.

Additionally, TPE will be running a shuttle bus service between Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge, and Northern will be running a shuttle bus service between Stalybridge and Manchester Victoria.

The timings are very generous. It doesn’t take 16 minutes for a bus to get from Mossley to Greenfield, nor does it take 27 minutes for a bus to get from Greenfield to Marsden. That might explain why there were reports last weekend of replacement buses departing from stations early, and also diverting to Slaithwaite station when the published information stated they would not do so. We do not feel confident in saying that either the published timings, or the locations where the replacement buses will call, will prove to be accurate.

TPE have been quite clear to us, in all our conversations with them, that trains during TRU engineering works would run “as close as possible to the point of obstruction”. In other words, passengers would be kept on trains as far as practicable. From this it follows that if the line is blocked at, say, Stalybridge, trains from the east can run at least as far as Marsden to retain a train service for Slaithwaite & Marsden.

Last weekend (3/4 September) the line was blocked at Stalybridge. The line was not closed between Huddersfield and Marsden, so according to the principles set out trains could and should have run up to Marsden. Actually the Huddersfield to Hull trains did run up to Marsden to reverse, but not in passenger service. So the first time TPE had the opportunity to do what they promised, they chose not to. It’s not clear why they did this. It’s not even as if there was any saving to TPE on fuel or staffing costs, just the completely unnecessary inconvenience for passengers of a replacement bus taking three times as long.

We are also waiting, impatiently, for Network Rail to start discussing with us and other local stakeholders how disruption will be managed during the TRU construction phase.

Three years ago, Andrew Haines (Chief Executive of Network Rail) was interviewed in The Guardian about changing the culture of the organisation and listening to passengers:

Plans such as the rebuilding of stations and the introduction of new timetables have been implemented without sufficient concern for passengers, he adds. “In any normal business you wouldn’t even have to think about it – if you don’t look after your customers, they go somewhere else.”

Part of his prescription for change is simply to consult more; for example, on the biggest scheme that Network Rail will be tasked with in this period, the TransPennine upgrade. Haines says passenger groups should be clearly informed about the years of closures and disruption it will entail on the line between Manchester and Leeds, and given a choice: “Do we want to get the pain over and done with, very intense pain, or prolong it?”

Network Rail’s Andrew Haines: ‘We’ve stopped the rot a bit’ | Network Rail | The Guardian

Three years on, Network Rail have yet to talk to any of the rail users’ groups along the TRU route, but the disruption has already started. Either Mr Haines didn’t mean it, or other less senior people in Network Rail decided it wasn’t necessary.

[UPDATE 23/09/2022. We still do not have any reply from TPE as to why they decided to run empty stock trains up to Marsden on 3rd & 10th September instead of providing a useful train service. Presumably it’s taking longer than usual to think up a flimsy and implausible excuse which they can retro-fit to an unjustifiable decision.]

[UPDATE 20/10/2022. A further month has passed and we still do not have any reply from TPE as to why they decided to run empty stock trains up to Marsden on 3rd & 10th September instead of providing a useful train service. Not only have they given up on providing a decent train service, but it seems they can no longer be bothered with the (far more important) task of thinking up lame excuses to retro-fit to an unjustifiable action.]

Posted in Marsden, Slaithwaite, Transpennine Express, Transpennine Route Upgrade, weekend rail services | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“Transport Secretary more than trebles investment for rail in the north to over £9 billion”

Pardon just a tiny bit of cynicism on our part.

The North Transpennine route was acknowledged as being full in 1999. Railtrack (as was) produced glossy brochures of what they would do to increase capacity, and handed out those brochures at a public meeting in Marsden. Nothing happened.

The government announced, in the Autumn Statement 2011, that the North Transpennine route Manchester-Leeds-York would be electrified, completion by 2018. Nothing happened.

Part of the route – Victoria-Stalybridge – was to be electrified as part of the North West Electrification Project. Nothing happened.

In the eleven years since the 2011 announcement, there have been numerous re-announcements and an almost complete absence of any action.

Last week, Network Rail and the DfT indulged in a bit of unwarranted self-congratulation on having finally got round to electrifying just 5 out of more than 60 route miles. If they carry on at the present rate, the entire route will be electrified by 2175.

Now, with this re-announcement, it’s been confirmed that the entire route will be electrified. The Secretary of State has told the Yorkshire Post that it will take 10 to 15 years from now until TRU is completed in full, so that will be 21 to 26 years since it was announced and 33 to 38 years since the first set of proposals.

So much time wasted, so little action.

We still don’t know much about how it will impact on communities like ours along the route.

This latest reannouncement came the day before a damning report from the National Audit Office, pointing out the money wasted so far on abortive work, and the time wasted in making a start on construction.

DfT self-congratulatory press release follows. When reading it, remember that the entire scheme was supposed to have been completed by 2018.

Today 19 July 2022, the government has made available £959 million of additional funding to continue to progress the delivery of the ambitious Transpennine route upgrade.

This funding is a significant milestone and another step towards upgrading the key east-west rail artery across the north of England, to further this government’s levelling up and decarbonisation objectives.

In addition to progressing the design of aspects of the upgrade, this funding will enable further on-the-ground delivery of electrification and journey time improvement works, mostly west of Leeds.

One of the first tangible benefits will be enabling electric trains to run between Manchester and Stalybridge by the middle of the decade. We are also developing scope that will enable the Transpennine route upgrade to become the first phase of Northern Powerhouse Rail, including plans to unlock freight flows and take thousands of lorries off our roads.

We are also more than trebling the investment in the Transpennine route upgrade from £2.9 billion to between £9.0 billion and £11.5 billion.

This additional investment will enable the roll out of digital signalling technology, electrification of the full route and the provision of additional tracks for commercial and freight services, giving rail users more reliable, more punctual, more comfortable and greener rail journeys.

To date, the government has approved over £2 billion of funding for the upgrade. The further £959 million of funding reiterates this government’s commitment to transforming rail connectivity across the north, as part of the Integrated Rail Plan.

Transport update: Transpennine route upgrade – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Posted in Electrification, Transpennine Route Upgrade | Tagged , | Leave a comment