Councillors call for independent report into Northern Rail timetable changes to be published and RMT union agree to three further days of strike action

Councillors call for independent report into Northern Rail timetable changes to be published and RMT union agree to three further days of strike action

Councillors call for independent report into Northern Rail timetable changes to be published and RMT union agree to three further days of strike action

                                        

Northern Rail train Chester 9th June 2018
Northern Rail train Chester 9th June 2018

Councillors on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Transport Committee last Thursday afternoon agreed an urgent motion proposed by the Lead Member for Rail and Freight (Cllr Gordon Friel) which you can watch below.
Continue reading “Councillors call for independent report into Northern Rail timetable changes to be published and RMT union agree to three further days of strike action”

Why will Merseyrail services be disrupted on the 8th, 10th and 23rd July 2017 due to strike action?

Why will Merseyrail services be disrupted on the 8th, 10th and 23rd July 2017 due to strike action?

Why will Merseyrail services be disrupted on the 8th, 10th and 23rd July 2017 due to strike action?

                              

Bidston Train Station (Borderlands Line) 13th August 2016 (John Brace)
Bidston Train Station (Borderlands Line) 13th August 2016 (John Brace)

Merseyrail employees who are part of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) are striking on Saturday 8th July 2017, Monday 10th July 2017 and Sunday 23rd July 2017.

Although Merseyrail are hoping to run to a reduced timetable on strike days (which means Merseyrail trains will not stop at many stations on the Wirral and be less frequent at the others) the entire train network was known to be stopped completely on a strike day earlier this year in March for safety reasons.

Trains on the Bidston to Wrexham Central line which is run by Arriva Trains Wales won’t be affected by this strike. Although people planning to connect at Bidston to a Merseyrail train during one of the three strike days will be.

There is also a strike by Northern Rail staff planned for the 8th July 2017, 9th July 2017 and 10th July 2017 which will result in a reduced service (on Merseyside this is generally services that go to and from Liverpool Lime Street). Further details on their reduced timetable are on Northern Rail’s website.

The Merseyrail and Northern Rail strikes are caused by a dispute between employers and the union over new trains in 2020 which will be staffed only by a driver and not a driver and guard as at present.

The lost revenue to Merseyrail during each strike day is estimated by the RMT union at £139,000 a day (plus the cost of contingency arrangements).

Under the franchise agreement between Merseytravel and Merseyrail, the public sector will pay Merseyrail for the lost profits due to industrial action.

So for the three strike days this is estimated at £417,000 (plus contingency arrangements) paid for out of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority budget (who control Merseytravel).

Last year in a private meeting councillors on the LCRCA Merseytravel Committee and Council Leaders on the LCRCA agreed to the contract for new trains.

On Monday 10th July (one of the strike days) Liverpool City Council’s Constitutional Issues Committee meets to decide on a recommendation to pay the Chair of the Merseytravel Committee Cllr Liam Robinson £29,983 a year for his role on the Merseytravel Committee (in addition to amounts he receives as a Liverpool City Council councillor).

Cllr Liam Robinson is also the portfolio holder for Transport on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority which meets next week on Friday 14th July 2017.

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Merseytravel blamed by Merseyrail as cause of 1 day strike tomorrow by RMT over axing guards from trains

Merseytravel blamed by Merseyrail as cause of 1 day strike tomorrow by RMT over axing guards from trains

Merseytravel blamed by Merseyrail as cause of 1 day strike tomorrow by RMT over axing guards from trains

                             

Merseytravel Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) meeting 25th June 2015 Middle Row L to R Cllr Jerry Williams, Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Malcolm Sharp, Cllr Terry Shields
Merseytravel Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) meeting 25th June 2015 Middle Row L to R Cllr Jerry Williams, Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Malcolm Sharp, Cllr Terry Shields

UPDATED 12.37 13.3.17: Merseyrail have suspended all trains until at least 2pm as drivers (presumably not part of the RMT union) refuse to cross picket lines, so trains are not running at all on the Merseyrail network at this point in time.

It was like the Wild West out there at the train station.

And who should I spy scurrying away, why a blast from the past Steve Maddox (with his wife)!

Those who remember will know that Steve Maddox was once clerk to Merseytravel (in the days it met at Hatton Garden).

So in a way I think the universe is gently nudging me to write this story!

In train related news, the workers are getting cross at the local politicians’ plan to axe the guards when new trains are introduced .

Decided in a behind closed doors extraordinary meeting last year, councillors (including Cllr Steve Foulkes (Labour), Cllr Jerry Williams (Labour) and Cllr Les Rowlands (Conservative)) agreed to new trains that only need drivers and not guards.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has called a strike for tomorrow (Monday 13th March 2017).

The strike will lead to disruption of timetabled services.

Merseyrail (their employer) objected to the High Court on the basis that RMT’s dispute was with Merseytravel not with Merseyrail, however this call for an injunction was rejected by the judiciary.

RMT is also striking on Northern Rail services too on the same day.

On the Merseyrail network (in addition to the planned engineering works that mean Liverpool Lime Street (Wirral Line), Moorfields (Wirral Line) and Liverpool Central (Wirral Line) will be closed), during the day of the strike action tomorrow Merseyrail plan to run trains only from 7am to 7pm with a half hourly service.

Services from Liverpool Lime Street (which was only recently reopened) travelling with Northern Rail to Manchester Victoria and Wigan North Western services will also be disrupted.

Northern Rail has a page on their website outlining the changes to timetables and so does Merseyrail.

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Merseytravel announces wifi at all underground train stations within 5 years

Merseytravel announces wifi at all underground train stations within 5 years

Merseytravel announces wifi at all underground train stations within 5 years

                                                           

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Councillor Steve Foulkes at a meeting of Merseytravel's Performance and Review Subcommittee 23rd March 2015
Councillor Steve Foulkes at a meeting of Merseytravel’s Performance and Review Subcommittee 23rd March 2015

The first main agenda item at the meeting was a report on a review of transport and emissions in the Liverpool City Region, along with the terms of reference for the Reducing Transport Emissions Review 2014 and slides which summarised the author of the report said.

In response Cllr Steve Foulkes suggested, “Maybe leave your car home for one day or something, those types of changes you know that make a massive impact.”

Cllr Liam Robinson (Chair of Merseytravel) said, “For me that’s about making sure public transport is the number one choice of getting around from A to B.”

The next item was the Customer and Passenger Satisfaction Review.

There were no questions or comments on this. Councillors agreed the recommendation.

The next to last report was on Rail Patronage and Ticketing along with an enclosure.

A representative from Merseyrail and Northern Rail were along to answer any questions. The report showed an increase in passenger numbers on the Merseyrail lines (for the first half of 2014/15 compared to the first half of 2013/14) but a decrease in passenger numbers travelling with Northern Rail.

The Merseyrail representative attributed some of the increase to the Open Golf tournament and the Giants event, but that even when the extra passengers travelling to these events were taken into account that there was still an underlying growth of 2%.

The Northern Rail representative disputed that there had been a decline in passenger numbers and stated that their own figures showed a 2.3% increase compared to the previous year. He asked for passenger numbers to be compared at the end of the year as factors such as engineering works and electrification closures would have affected their figures.

A councillor pointed out that wifi was nearly always available on long distance trains and asked when they would introduce wifi to trains?

The answer given was, “Chair I can comment on that. Firstly, the thing to mention on that is the five-year growth plan that was mentioned by Paul a little bit earlier. One of the initiatives is wifi at all the underground stations as a pilot scheme. So that’s already committed to, we’ll see how that rolls out.”

The Northern Rail representative answered, “We are currently trialling free wifi on our electric trains in the Yorkshire area with a view to rolling out.

The new franchise specification for Northern and Transpennine Express will indicate, well sorry has stated that all services will have free wifi during the first part of that franchise. We’re also trialling free wifi at stations.”

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Cllr McGlashan “before you even get out of the airport you’ve got to change money to get a pound to put the bloody..”

Cllr McGlashan “before you even get out of the airport you’ve got to change money to get a pound to put the bloody..”

Cllr McGlashan “before you even get out of the airport you’ve got to change money to get a pound to put the bloody..”

                         

Merseytravel meeting of the 25th July 2014
Merseytravel meeting (25th July) Right Cllr Les Rowlands, centre background Cllr Steve Foulkes and Cllr Ron Abbey where councillors discussed Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Last Friday, as well as discussing the Open Golf and Mersey Gateway bridge tolls issue councillors on Merseytravel also discussed (which is rather topical as many people will be using Liverpool Airport at this time of year) a report titled “Liverpool John Lennon Airport Surface Access Delivery Plan July 2014” and its appendix which was a forty-three page draft plan.

In case the rather opaque title of the report means absolutely nothing to you (the officer who wrote it Peter Sandman summarised the report and draft plan for councillors at the meeting) it was about improving access to Liverpool John Lennon Airport by bus, improving marketing (which includes joint marketing of the airport by Merseytravel and the airport itself) and the customer experience (improved information & improved customer service as well as other areas). The review was started in September 2013 and the draft plan contains improvements to be carried out between now and 2016.

An example of some of the improvements in the plan are better signage to the bus stops at the airport, a cleaning regime for the bus stops and airport staff receiving WorldHost training (provided by Merseytravel). This is the same free training that was offered to Wirral’s taxi drivers ahead of the Open Golf Championship. The Northern Rail ticket machine has also been moved from the airport (which doesn’t have a rail connection and where there were poor ticket sales) to nearby Liverpool South Parkway train station.

Bus timetables are now available outside the main arrivals point and if Merseytravel get grant funding they plan to have an electronic departure board for buses in the airport’s arrivals hall and at the bus stops. Merseytravel is also in talks with bus operators that serve the airport to enhance the quality of the existing routes. Councillors will be receiving a quarterly report on progress. A number of councillors had things to say about the report and draft plan at Merseytravel’s meeting.

Cllr Ken McGlashan (Knowsley) said, “Thanks Chairman, thanks for that excellent report Pete, really good. It reports on the warts and all, if you look at 3.3, 3.3.1 “how to retain and grow local outbound marketing in the face of competition from other regional airports” and let’s be clear about it, if you’re not to go about it the wrong way, Liverpool John Lennon Airport have precisely done that.

I think from our house to Manchester is about twenty-eight minutes, it’s round about the same I know you’ve got to go to Huyton, it’s about the same to Liverpool Airport but then again if I was to go to Liverpool Airport now, I’ve got to pay to drop off! You know is this a good advert for anybody? I think also you’re charging for trollies as well, Manchester you don’t. You know it is a nonsense!

Imagine a transatlantic flight was diverted to Liverpool and some are trying to find quarters that don’t fit the pound machine. So before you even get out of the airport you’ve got to change money to get a pound to put the bloody… sorry about that, to put your luggage on, you know.

When they owned the airport, the authorities owned the airport, we sold it to Paul err Peel, because they were going to offer us a better service. They in turn put it onto these Canadians, who now seem to be doing everything they can to move everything to Manchester so you know I think the more influence we can have about this to get them to look at this the better.

The 500 service, Merseytravel initiated that, Arriva didn’t! Until it was making a profit, they just got in there and took it off us because it was making a profit.

Now, we’re travelling and I’ll say to them, that the officers have received complaints but they’re doing exactly the same with the trains. The train comes in on each side, the bus comes in at another time. You know, we’re talking about integration, meeting our people’s needs. I mean to do that, you say yourself, you put yourself out to meet passenger needs and unfortunately I don’t think they are at present. A bit of a rant Chair I’m sorry.”

Peter Sandman (Merseytravel’s Customer and Business Development Manager) said, “It’s a fair point, I think the point has been made to the Airport. I think one important thing we have done is started to have that regular dialogue to be perfectly honest with you.

I think the charging for parking, you could argue that it encourages use of the public transport network if I’m being honest with you. One thing the Airport have pledged to do is to really support basically not levy any parking charges to the bus operators who’ve actually started to think about how they are running the service commercially into and out of the airport to increase the provision of service and there is support there absolutely.

I think the other point is that with Peel now taking on the majority shareholding with the airports, the feedback from bodies it’s certainly they are much more focussed on strategic development and commercial development of the airport.

I mean that seems to travel my shift away from the way the previous owners, … felt towards the Airport. So hopefully through this process we have genuinely made those representations to answer your question, as you correctly say and then through this ongoing dialogue we’re starting to look at how those issues be resolved for the benefit of the customers who ultimately will sustain the Airport going forward.”

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