Rail franchises operators & contracts

12.05.20

"Performance, performance, performance" - Rail North Committee meeting

Today (May 12th) Transport for the North’s Rail North Committee met virtually to discuss the Northern trains review and rail recovery post Covid-19. 

The discussion began with leader of Leeds City Council, Cllr Judith Blake, stated that now is the time to ensure the North’s leaders have enhanced transparency and are kept fully in the loop about plans for the railway. She also said clear communication to both railway staff and passengers will be “absolutely essential” to ensure people know what is expected, both on trains, as well as at stations, platforms and ticket machines.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, was also present at the meeting. He said that this must be a moment to draw a line under years of “chaos” on the railways. He added that things feel much more positivie today.

He also said social distancing will be more difficult on trains and at stations if services are delayed or disrupted. He stressed that the need to cautious and for services not to be re-introduced until it is ready to go. Clear messaging to passengers is needed on exactly what capacity there will be on the railway.

Nick Donovan, Managing Director at Northern Rail, said that social distancing rules will have a profound impact on capacity and therefore on service design, there are no easy mechanisms for volume management either on train or at stations and that staffing is still a significant challenge. 

Richard George, Chair of Indpendent Railway Experts, said that Northern wants to build on the “steady state” service it had to put in place as part of the keyworker timetable as they begin to bring back in more services. Northern plan to uplift services from 45% to around 65% of services from May 18th, with clear communication to passengers so if they need to, can plan their journeys.

Mr. Donovan also said that behaviour of passenger has changed, due to the efforts from frontline staff. Northern have said they can’t stress enough, that resilience and reliability of the timetable as it is rebuilt is “absolutely paramount.” Restoration of a full Northern timetable is not likely to be until later in the year due to significant disruptions.

Northern's key message is, "performance, performance, performance" as the operator seeks to deliver their 100-day plan to restore confidence after being taken over by the Operator of Last Resort. 

More to follow... 

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