Select Committee on Transport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line (REN 13)


Additions FoSCL would like to see


  In the run up to privatisation, the early morning through trains between Leeds-Carlisle, and vice versa, were withdrawn. (This was a "grooming" move by BR, to abandon some services before the PSR was set).

  Instead of through trains there are now "part way" services at each end of the line. Whilst these cover almost the same mileages as through trains would, they only serve a few stations. There is an empty stock working from Skipton to Blea Moor, which turns round and then forms the 0716 Ribblehead-Leeds service. Thus anybody from north of Ribblehead is not served by an early southbound train; their first arrival time in Leeds is not until 1136, which is too late for work, education, or onward connections to the south.

  Similarly, there is an 0620 Carlisle-Kirkby Stephen, which then forms the 0728 Kirkby Stephen-Carlisle. Thus anybody from south of Kirkby Stephen is not served by an early northbound train; their first arrival in Carlisle not being until 1129; which is too late for work, education, or onward connections to Scotland.

  For the two stations in the middle of the line, Dent and Garsdale, there isn't an early train in either direction!

  FoSCL would like to see early morning through train services between Leeds-Carlisle, and vice versa, re-introduced.


  The central section of northern England (Eden Valley, South Lakeland, Wensleydale, Ribblesdale) is not provided with train access to/from the Lancashire/Manchester area, even though there is track in situ at Hellifield which links the Carlisle-Settle and Clitheroe-Manchester routes.

  There are increasing numbers of people wanting to travel southwards towards Manchester for work, education, and access to the International Airport. It is also thought that significant numbers of tourists and day trip visitors would travel onto the scenic S & C from the Lancashire conurbations, as they do from West Yorks and the Dales. Thus it is felt that a broad spectrum of two-way passengers can be generated.

  FoSCL would like to see regular (several daily) services from Carlisle-Hellifield-Manchester Airport.


  The S & C was built primarily as a fast Anglo-Scottish route, but the machinations of BR during the 1980's closure proposal saw such trains withdrawn.

  Just lately, the franchisee has introduced a Leeds-Glasgow train, but just one per day, with the same unit returning Glasgow-Leeds in the afternoon. This limited service offered limited scope for journey opportunities, but was picking up trade. It was then withdrawn, and substituted for a bus due to the franchisee having driver shortages.

  FoSCL would like to see a more useful level of Anglo-Scottish services restored to serve the Midlands/South Yorks.


  When class 156 Super Sprinters were introduced as the norm for S & C services, they were felt to be as good as anything available from the fleets of the time.

  4 car 156s was the standard provision on four trains, with two car 156s on other trains. This catered fairly well with peak passenger travel patterns. Latterly the franchisee has reduced all trains to two car formations, with resultant heavy overcrowding, which leads to complaints, loss of customer satisfaction, bad publicity, and loss of repeat visits. When a lot of passengers are travelling to experience the line and scenery, overcrowding is just not acceptable, whereas commuters tend to put up with it.

  FoSCL feel that reverting to bigger train formations is essential.

  It may also be time to review train types. Visibility is important on scenic routes, but class 156s have several seats by coach body panels, giving obstructed views. Are newer trains better equipped with seats matching up to windows?


  In the 1980s each platform at each S & C station was fitted with a "help phone" connected to the local signalbox, from which passengers could obtain train running details. This system is in steady decline, with some new signalmen unwilling to provide information, and the phones at Garsdale have been removed.

  Each station does have a payphone, usually a BT cardphone, and some are connected to the franchisee's customer services dept via a dialling facility "**2". If the older system is failing, it is essential to standardise the **2 facility for all platforms. This will mean installing either a second phone, or an extension, and connecting them to **2.

  FoSCL believe that provision of information at isolated rural stations is of paramount importance.

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