NEWS UPDATE: December 2014
1. Passing loops in the Hope Valley Many of you will have attended the Network Rail consultations earlier this year about the placing of the passing loops to upgrade the Hope Valley line. Network Rail have now said that they are now considering placing a loop at Bamford rather than Grindleford and will be carrying out a second consultation early in 2015. (see Reports and Articles)
2. Meetings with Companies re franchising the Northern and TransPennine services Since submitting our response to the DfT initial consultation on franchising the Northern and TransPennine services. (see Reports and Articles) we have met with the 6 companies that will be bidding for the new franchise Invitation to Tender (ITT) which is due out shortly. These are:
– Northern – Govia, Abellio, and Arriva
– TransPennine – Stagecoach Keolis and First Group.
All the representatives said that their companies were very keen to get the franchise; that they see groups like ours as key sources of ideas and information; and that they are looking for innovative ideas.
3. A Better Railway for the North We also attended a meeting organised by the Campaign for Better Transport entitled A Better Railway for the North where Julie Mills, Project Director, Department for Transport (a replacement for the rail minister Claire Perry who was in Parliament under a 3 line whip) gave the keynote speech on the Government plans for the north’s railways. Points she covered included:
• The Dft has received 20,000 responses to their consultation document
• The Dft Is working closely with Rail North. This is about to become a formal partnership and is part of a wider ‘devolution’ agenda – creating a ‘Northern power house’.
• Travel patterns are changing and current services do not meet new needs.
• They will not repeat the mistake of making the next Northern franchise ‘steady
• They are looking for improved services, better journeys, improved connectivity, less overcrowding and overall will be concerned with quality as well as price.
4. Transport News in the Autumn Statement. In the recent Autumn Statement under the heading Transport – Pooling The Strength Of The North George Osborne said:
1.192 new franchises and the £1 billionce infrastructure investment already underway, new trains, faster journeys, more seats and more services. Invitations to tender for the next Northern and Trans-Pennine Express rail franchises will be published shortly. The new franchises, subject to business case development, will: deliver at least a 20% increase in capacity to reduce overcrowding; include new Rolling Stock fit for the 21st century; encourage bidders to replace the outdated pacer trains with modern, better quality trains; bring all the trains that remain up to modern standards; provide additional services across the network; provide faster services on some of the busiest routes; and deliver substantial upgrades of station facilities across the network.
While welcoming these commitments we are concerned that there are not enough diesel trains available to replace the pacers at the same time as improving service frequency and have written to express our concerns to the three local MPs, the DfT and Rail North. (For the complete section re The Northern Power House in the Autumn Statement see Reports and Articles)
5. Good News The 18.14 from Sheffield is now stopping at Bamford (see new timetable). Well done to everybody who has been raising this issue at every opportunity.