A brief update on Coastliners’ Rail User Group activities during the later months of 2020:
- Unable to hold open meetings we managed a “live” Committee Meeting in August, at the Athenaeum, to work out our response to the House of Commons Transport Committee’s Inquiry on how to get people back on to trains and buses once the Covid crisis was over. Our main points are these:
[i] Government’s discouragement of public transport use has already lowered train loadings dangerously. Even if “safety” was the main reason for it, we think an immediate reversal of this bias is essential.
[ii] Too many initial difficulties confront passengers in getting details about catching trains and buses, and paying the cheapest legitimate fares for them. Simplification here will be key to regaining traffic generally.
[iii] Too many journeys turn out to be complicated by en-route change of train. Far more places need direct services to far more destinations than are offered now. In other words, rail routes and services must be spread more evenly across all routes – the exact opposite of current belief that one line (plus local connections) can best serve all.
[iv] As an example of what we mean, we have cited Tees Valley Combined Authority’s stated desire for hourly high-quality express trains along our Coast line – notably Cross-Country – to add to Grand Central’s well-established, but Covid-19-interrupted, London – Sunderland services. We fully support TVCA’s wishes.
- Given current restrictions, our campaigning has to be at arms’ length. In practice, this means asking around for comments to add to a Coastliners’ response to as many of a bewildering array of requests as we can, whenever we hear about them. In particular, we shall be formulating our reply to the North-East Joint Transport Committee’s draft Transport Plan, involving many proposals on improvements in the next 15 years or more, with public consultation open until mid-January. We need to make sure that the Coast line’s train services better match the needs of the half million people who live along it. If anyone should wish to make comments to us please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrive no later than 9th January please