MEN article-"Northern Rail is crumbling from the inside out and things are only going to get worse"

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Djgr, 18 Dec 2019.

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  1. underbank

    underbank Established Member

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    Obviously, building 4 tracks or loops at stations is going to be very costly, probably impractical and ruinously expensive. But, if some of the problem is the faster services getting stuck behind stoppers, is there no scope for a few passing loops to be installed at suitable locations away from stations, just to allow the fast services past the delayed slow stoppers which are causing a queue. (Yes I know it would make the stoppers even later but perhaps that is a price worth paying to keep things running).
     
  2. js1000

    js1000 Member

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    Well I'm sure Network Rail would chop a service or two through Manchester if they had the chance based upon their 'congested' Castlefield Corridor report. But the DfT are insistent in running more services as part of an unreliable timetable so fat chance of a sensible short-medium term solution - nor would they be willing to lose face and admit that the Ordsall Chord is one of the most poorly-thought out white elephants on the UK railway. It wasn't seriously considered at any stage that the Chord actually takes out a lot of the capacity into Oxford Road and Victoria requiring a perfect synchronisation of services - too much thought was about the simply shuffling the congestion problem away from the 'throat' of Piccadilly without considering the true repercussions. It's a mess.
     
  3. Djgr

    Djgr Member

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    The old "everyone's to blame but me" argument!
     
  4. Llama

    Llama Established Member

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    Blatantly agitating for service cuts.
     
  5. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    In the short term that will be necessary - fewer, longer trains.
     
  6. Llama

    Llama Established Member

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    Given the usual unit availability, that will transpire as just fewer trains.

    We are back where we were 18 months ago. Seems to be the Arriva way. They had form for this nearly 20 years ago on ATN.
     
  7. syorksdeano

    syorksdeano Member

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    Northern really are not helping themselves here

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-engla...um=custom7&at_custom3=Regional+BBC+North+West

     
  8. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It's "unprecedented" every year. A bit like they give too many staff the week off then whine that it's somehow someone else's fault.

    Either it's poor planning for something that really isn't unexpected, or they have a problem with staff pulling sickies in which case they have a disciplinary issue.
     
  9. CaptainHaddock

    CaptainHaddock Established Member

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    The majority of Northern's cancellations are due to driver shortage or units breaking down and have nothing to do with any delay to network enhancements. Just one excuse after another.....
     
  10. Grannyjoans

    Grannyjoans Member

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    The driver shortages are mainly due to the new traction training on 195's / 331's as well as other traction training as units such as 158's are cascaded to depots which did not have them before.

    The only way this could have been avoided is by putting up with the old 142's / 150's forever. Or a much slower and more gradual introduction of the new trains.

    Units breaking down - Many reasons behind this - teething trouble with the new units, unfamiliarity of drivers with the new units, difficulties getting hold of maintenance control when things go wrong, as well as the things going wrong with the ageing pacer and sprinter fleet

    I don't really see how these problems could be avoided without a larger budget from the DFT. The only way to avoid the driver shortage is to take on another 10% more. I doubt the budget would allow this and even if it did there would be a massive surplus once all training has been completed

    I would put the blame mainly on the government for neglecting the northern network for over 30 years then trying to improve everything at once now, which should have been done years ago.
     
    Last edited: 23 Dec 2019
  11. Aivilo

    Aivilo Member

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    Not the case at all. Drivers were given the option of overtime or banked rest days for 195/331 training. The latter being you could take said banked day whenever you liked. Some manager agreed that and we'll now you reap what you sow.

    But nice of them to pin it on the uniforms as always
     
  12. Llama

    Llama Established Member

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    The phrase "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" was infamously used by you-know-who. Everyone with an ounce of sense knew what would happen, and now it's happened.

    But give the staff a kicking, why not...
     
  13. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    I don't think anyone's claiming that there's a magic bullet - but the West Yorkshire - Airport service seems to be the most problematic service, given the need to get from Stalybridge to Mauldeth Road (whether by reversing at Piccadilly or running via the Chord), given the numbers of people making through journeys - that's all.

    Not saying that there's *no* demand, of course, just that the network seems to be tied up by the direct link for (thousands? hundreds? dozens?) passengers going from West Yorkshire to Manchester - it seems the biggest problem.

    I'd say that Mr Brown is right.

    • The Government have agreed a contract with Northern
    • That contract was based upon certain commitments from both sides
    • The Government haven't fulfilled their side of the bargain
    • Northern therefore cannot deliver what they promised to deliver
    • But Northern can't move the goal posts (without Government agreement)

    What would you do in Northern's position? It's a franchise that requires high subsidy per passenger mile, so no company is going to spend millions of pounds on dozens of brand new trains - they can't chop services because they agreed to deliver a certain level (even though this was on the agreement that the Government would spend money on sufficient infrastructure) - they play second fiddle to TPE (and other TOCs), so there's very little flexibility in the timetable.

    Clearly there are mistakes made by Northern - they shouldn't be relying on so much overtime or on staff regularly dashing from one side of central Manchester to the other or on there being virtually no staff sickness (so precious little slack in the system) - but if The Powers That Be didn't give Northern sufficient tools to do the job then it's hard to pin the blame on them for not delivering - that's how contracts work.

    The only "light at the end of the tunnel" (as far as an Operator Of Last Resort) goes is that at least they could rip up the franchise commitments - e.g. the way that East Coast were able to ignore the NXEC promise to run bi-hourly to Lincoln etc (hence off-loading the 180s) - so a Northern version of DOR might be able to trim the timetable down to something more manageable - you can't be in breach of franchise commitments if there are no franchise commitments - hence BR being able to "trim" services/ frequencies/ stations but private TOCs are lumbered with delivering all of the awkward things in the franchise.
     
  14. scrapy

    scrapy Established Member

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    Training on new units in the Central and West regions has been pretty much suspended since 10th December and doesn't resume until January. Up until a few weeks ago Northern published employee sickness data (as a percentage of total staff so not just train crew) as one of the KPIs on it's employee website and depot noticeboards however this has suddenly stopped in the last few weeks. Seems like it's a bit of a cover up as no-one has actual figures but people I speak to say it's no higher than normal.

    The reason Northern are short of drivers is the ridiculous offer of banked rest days (a banked rest day can be taken whenever the driver or guard wants) for training earlier in the year. They knew full well that drivers (and guards to a lesser extent as they had less days to take) would take them in the run up to Xmas, but as llama has said the phrase 'we'll cross that bridge when we come to it' was used. The ridiculous thing is Northern management can't be honest with passengers and say we made a mistake, but are still putting the blame elsewhere.

    People say Northern is a scapegoat in the press however they seem to do fairly well out of this. The press are blaming staff sickness not management incompetence.
     
    Last edited: 23 Dec 2019
  15. gazzaa2

    gazzaa2 Member

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  16. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    The reality is that they are chopping services on a daily basis. Many reports state that on some lines they have been chopping the same services on the same days of the week for months.

    If I was a senior manager at Northern I would tell the truth and not do this:
    Nowadays, however, it is pretty obvious that honesty is not a valued (or even expected) quality in senior management or political circles.
     
  17. Aivilo

    Aivilo Member

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  18. gazzaa2

    gazzaa2 Member

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    Not sure entire service closures was in the plan.
     
  19. Aivilo

    Aivilo Member

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    They knew exactly what was gonna happen. It's why they came back after agreeing to banked rest trying to stop it. The person who agreed it should get strung up as they're solely to blame. But they won't do that they'll blame it on sickness like the article and won't hold themselves accountable
     
  20. Mogster

    Mogster Member

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    Why would the management agree to let staff take time in lieu “whenever they wanted”. It’s completely ridiculous... :lol:
     
  21. scrapy

    scrapy Established Member

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    I will clarify that the days had to be taken within 6 months of training taking place and 7 days notice had to be given by the employee. Other than that there was no restriction and no limit to numbers that could be off on any particular day.
     
  22. Matt_pool

    Matt_pool Member

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    My train to Lime Street was cancelled this morning and my train home from Lime Street was cancelled this evening!

    Thank God I live on a bus route with a reliable service, otherwise I would have been late for work.

    The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check Live Departures to see if my train is delayed or cancelled! 9 times out of 10 it's one or the other!
     
  23. Glenn1969

    Glenn1969 Member

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    They and TPE came in promising a transformation. I think delivering it will take the full length of both franchises- and the on time delivery of the Transpennine Route Upgrade. I am still giving them time to deliver
     
  24. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    Well, blame falling equally on both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party in equal measures if a 30 year time period is used.
     
  25. Philip

    Philip Established Member

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    At least Northern offer cheap fares, same can't be said of other struggling TOCs like TPE and Cross Country.
     
  26. Nicholas Lewis

    Nicholas Lewis Member

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    Rail workers are a committed bunch who will put themselves out to keep the service going but they are at breaking point. Its these loyal workers who face the passengers day in day out in ever deteriorating position its no wonder they've elected to take a day off with any appeal from TCSs falling on deaf ears.
    OLR will be in the new year when DofT can capitalise on it and say there helping there new friends in the North
     
  27. Glenn1969

    Glenn1969 Member

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    I'm not convinced OLR will happen or will change anything without Govt putting the money into the infrastructure that should have happened 20 years ago
     
  28. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Why was it offered to them? When do you hear of Tesco being closed on Christmas Eve because they stuffed up again and allowed too many people to book the day off?

    It's not Sunday, it's Tuesday.
     
  29. TUC

    TUC Established Member

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    Exactly!
     
  30. TUC

    TUC Established Member

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    The answer in terms of staffing in the long term is for the government to invest in training lots of new staff, such that it floods the market, and includes a number who will only work part time. Far from being a waste of money, the over supply of staff would unlock resolving a great many issues in the rail industry.
     
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