Select Committee on Transport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by David Wragg Esq (REN 28)

  I would like to submit the following for consideration by the Select Committee looking into rail services in the North of England.

  1.  The North of England needs a vibrant, reliable and expanding rail service, that meets the needs of industry, and the social and commuting needs of its residents. The services need to expand and develop to ensure that the rail network takes up any increases in travel demands ,and regains some of the present usage of road transport. To ensure that the present road system does not expand and encroach on the precious asset of our countryside.

  2.  The Government and the SRA seem to have little commitment to improve services in the Region, in the SRA report they state the main priority is to reduce overcrowding in the South East, and some 70% of the available investment will be directed to meet these needs.

  The schemes proposed for the Region are below the minimum level required to ensure the service levels stand still never mind improve. Most multi-modal studies carried out dismissed the role of rail to solve the problems of the motorway and trunk roads. Therefore monies must be made available to improve the rail infrastructure to ensure it can absorb any increase in traffic, to ensure that the increase is taken by the railway and not the roads.

  3.  The services in the Region have improved very little since privatisation, the monies have not been available to improve the services. All rail companies will only see a improvement to there image if they provide a reliable and clean service.

  We list below comments on the services of the present suppliers.

    (a)  GNER—good customer service, but overcrowding on most services. There is real need for investment in more rolling stock, but the franchisee is unwilling to invest because of the short term of his contract.

    (b)  Midland Main Line-good customer services, but the service is unreliable and some trains are dirty. The need is for some infrastructure improvements to improve reliability. Sheffield needs a service that takes less than two hours to get to London.

    (c)  Virgin Cross Country—The trains are overcrowded unreliable and dirty, the information provided to passengers is poor, staff state a train is only slightly delayed, when it is running 30 late, and will miss some of its booked connections. New stock this year should help but improvements to some of the infrastructure are required.

    (d)  Arriva—Unreliable and overcrowded on the Transpennine routes, unreliable dirty trains on the other routes. The service does not meet the requirements of the customers and therefore it does little to retain them ,and does not attract travellers off the roads. Problems with staff are well documented, but the crisis seems to be made worse by top management.

    (e)  North Western—The services are unreliable dirty and overcrowded on some services. The provision of new rolling stock is helping but the image is still poor with the public.

    (f)  West Coast—Unreliable dirty and overcrowd services. Things must improve with new trains and the infrastructure improvements south of Crewe but the customer service must improve for the image to attract back travellers.

    (g)  Hull Trains—Provides a much needed service which is clean reliable and provides good customer services.

    (h)  Central—Provides a mediocre service even new stock is dirty and in some cases overcrowded.

    (i)  Freight Services—The expansion of services is held back by the lack of infrastructure investment in the Region.

  4.  To improve the rail services in the Region will take as much as that required for the South East The most urgent need is investment in the Infrastructure (a) in the existing to provide a reliable service and (b) to provide additional capacity.

  More routes must be developed across the Pennines, such as the reopening of Colne to Skipton and the Woodhead route.

  The main Transpennine routes should be improved to W10 or W12 clearance and diversionary routes should be opened for freight trains around Manchester. If the flyover at Manchester Piccadilly was built, this would allow more passenger trains to operate but also ensure that more freight could be taken across the country by rail and save having to build another motorway.

  5.  Door to door reliable travel is what the public require, therefore a integrated system must be provided, linking bus rail and air services. The reopening of various routes must be investigated such as Leemside, Harrogate-Northallerton and Buxton-Matlock.

  6.  A safe reliable clean rail service is what is required for the North of England and the SRA must be directed and given the funds to provide the services the region needs.

David Wragg

Council For The Protection of Rural England

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