North East Rail campaigners were left fuming when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said they enjoy brand new trains on the Northern network.
The alleged statement was reported in a communication to stakeholders, issued by Northern Railway, now directly owned by the government following its renationalisation earlier this year, following a ceremony to mark the withdrawal of the last Pacer train on 27th November.
Railfuture North East Branch Chair Keith Simpson commented Pacers have gone - but new trains havent come. There is a large area of land between the Leeds - Manchester corridor and Scotland, which is called the North East. Leeds has new trains. Scotland has new trains. But here in the North East the newest train we have on our local routes is 28 years old. We are only ever given other regions hand-me-downs.
I would invite Mr Shapps to meet me at Newcastle station to update me on when the North East really will see new trains on its local routes.
We agree that Pacers were universally unpopular and not disability compliant. Yet, some people believe even a Pacer was better than no train at all. We dont actually think Northern has enough trains to meet current pre-COVID demand. Take Cramlington for instance with its population of 40,000. The first commuter train into Newcastle doesnt get into the city until the staggeringly late time of 08:22. And that train is full to standing even before it reaches Cramlington, so if you want a seat, youll need to travel an hour after that.
But when we ask Northern for an additional train an hour earlier, or if we suggest strengthening that first train to make it 4 coaches instead of 2, so there are enough seats for everyone, their reply is we dont have enough rolling stock!. No commuter line in London would be allowed to have such an exceptionally poor service.
Railfuture is the national group campaigning for a bigger and better railway, and its North East branch which stretches from Teesside to Berwick is calling for improved services levels, rail re-openings and more new stations across the region. New members are welcome and can join at www.railfuture.org.uk/join/
Notes to Editors
Railfuture is the UK's leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services for passengers and freight. It is a voluntary group representing rail users, with 20,000 affiliated and individual members, and neither affiliated to or funded by train companies, political parties or trade unions
National Press Spokesperson: Bruce Williamson tel: 07759 557389 email: media at railfuture.org.uk
North East Branch Press Spokesperson: Dennis Fancett, tel: 07810 353651 email: chair at senrug.co.uk
The comment containing the remark referred to above was a Stakeholder Update issued by Northern Railway by email on 1st December 2020
The last Pacer to carry Northern customers ran from Kirkby to Manchester Victoria on Friday 27 November having travelled from and finished its journey at 17:45 pm