Rail service improvements and disruptions

12.06.20

Northern leaders discuss post-Covid rail operations

A meeting was held yesterday (June 11th) by Transport for the North to discuss the importance of getting the ramping up of rial operations right, and also the need for a Northern infrastructure pipeline of road and rail schemes over the next 20 years.

Members heard contributions from Network Rail, the Trade Unions Congress, Transport Focus and the Chair of Operator of Last resort overseeing Northern, on how the rail industry has responded to the lockdown and social distancing restrictions of the past few weeks, and how they are planning for a rise in services whilst also keeping staff and passengers safe.

A joint call was made for concise guidance and communications for passengers returning to public transport as restrictions to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic begin to ease, in particular with regard to the use of face coverings.

The meeting also highlighted that cooperative working has been the key to keeping the railways running for key workers and freight, particularly through the North of England Contingency Group.

Additionally, work to keep staff and passengers safe through social distancing and cleaning and hygiene measures are being frequently changed and developed, such as with vending machines for face coverings being installed and new antibacterial sprays for surfaces and equipment.

Members also talked through significant challenges during the subsequent discussion, such as planned increases in train numbers in July and September shouldn’t put a risk the stability of rail services and the importance of ensuring that services continue to meet passenger needs as lockdown measures are lifted and that reliability and stability are not comprised.

Furthermore, the continuing need to help passengers and staff stay safe whilst reinforcing the messaging around making essential journeys only and not using public transport wherever possible.

 David Hoggarth

Following the meeting, David Hoggarth, Strategic Rail Director at Transport for the North, said: “The impact on the rail industry when lockdown measures were first introduced was significant, and the challenges have continued as the situation evolved in the past few months.”

David also praised Northern Trains work on their 100-Day Plan: “We welcome the work they have done so far focusing on getting the basics right and look forward to hearing more details of their plans at the next Rail North Committee. What we are all focused on is ensuring reliability levels remain high as we move forward.

“Based on the successful implementation of a new key worker timetable in May and ongoing efforts to keep staff and passengers safe and informed, operators in the North are well-placed to meet the next challenges around further uplifts in services and increasing passenger numbers.

“But it’s vital that through the North of England Contingency Group we continue to work together to put passenger needs and staff safety first throughout COVID-19 recovery plans.”

Image: David Hoggarth (Transport for the North) 

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