Monthly Archives: July 2023
Going beyond the Coastline
Alex Bray, Stakeholder Liaison Manager for Cross Country Trains was the guest speaker. He outlined how XC were still in recovery mode post Covid, though most services had now been restored. Passenger flows had changed with more leisure travel, though the conflict between offering fast Inter-City trains at the same time as providing a commuter service into Birmingham and Manchester still existed. Though passenger numbers were around 75% of pre Covid there was still overcrowding on some services.
The XC contract was due for renewal on 15th October and whilst Arriva hoped to retain the contract nothing was certain. Under pressure for cost cutting from the treasury the remaining HSTs would be retired with the December timetable change. There had been no fleet investment for twenty years, but if the contract was retained then there would be the possibility of acquiring some of Avanti’s redundant 221s. The first four years of a new contract was likely to be one of stabilisation, with the following four possibly allowing scope for expansion. However, during the first period it was expected that the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) would take over responsibility for timetabling.
Coastliners have long campaigned for at least some XC or TransPennine (TPE) trains to be diverted away from the ECML to the Durham coast to provide direct links to Leeds, Manchester and the Midlands for the economic and social benefits of the much larger populations of Teesside and Sunderland. It was suggested that campaigning via Transport for the North (TfN), the Metro Mayor authorities, MPs, the Department of Transport (DfT) and business should begin now if it was to have any chance to bear fruit even in that second period.
Ticket Office Consultation
Under Treasury cost cutting policy the DfT was advocating closing most ticket offices around the country and moving staff ‘onto the platform’ since the percentage of tickets sold at booking offices had declined massively. In the North East the only two ticket offices to survive north of York under these proposals would be Newcastle and Hartlepool. How this would work in practice at large stations (eg Darlington) or two platform stations (eg Middlesbrough, Durham or Northallerton) was unclear, nor how it would affect those around 10% of passengers who choose to use the booking office for various reasons (eg impaired or not digitally connected) Consultative documents are available on the Northern, LNER and TPE web sites or you can use the Transport Focus feedback form @ https://www.transportfocus.org.uk/ticket-office-consultation/ . All rail users are encouraged to respond urgently and also write to their MP. The consultation closes on 26th July.
Next open meeting at The Peoples Centre, Raby Road Hartlepool, 2pm Thursday 13h July
1) Alex Bray from Cross Country Trains – Links beyond the Durham Coast
2) Booking Office closures consultation
3) Local issues including Hartlepool 2nd platform and Tall Ships trains
4) Facebook & website pages