Northern rail service increases in July

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SteveM70

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Just a thought on the 78% staff availability number.

I don’t know how many days of holiday Northern drivers get, and I imagine it isn’t a consistent number because of the various different contracts they’ll be on, but it’s realistic to assume around 30 plus bank holidays. So that’s 38 days a year, out of 260 days a year (assuming a five day working week). So on that basis holidays would account for 38/260 = 14.6% absence.

At my work (logistics for a supermarket chain) the average sickness rate In normal times amongst our drivers is 4 to 6%. I don’t see any reason why lorry and train drivers shouldn’t be broadly similar in that respect.

So add those two together and you get between 18% and 20%, ie 80% to 82% available for work. They’re quoting 78% as the justification for operating a very significantly reduced service.

Doesn’t feel right to me
 
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185

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Just a thought on the 78% staff availability number.
Just had a reply from TfGM which clarifies a letter sent to a customer which effectively stated end-of-evening trains are being cancelled as staff are unavailable due to sickness.

This reason given was contrary to the figures produced at TfNs board meeting, which stated staff availability was 78%, far higher than trains operated.

- There is mention of drivers retiring or leaving causing a dire shortage.
- New drivers cannot be minded in the cab due to social distancing.

but crucially...

- They state that they now have little or no jurisdiction over Northern, that now sits with TfN (which TfGM sits on the board of, with the other PTEs). This change occured since the demise of Arriva on 01st Mar 2020.
 

Howardh

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Just had a reply from TfGM which clarifies a letter sent to a customer which effectively stated end-of-evening trains are being cancelled as staff are unavailable due to sickness.

This reason given was contrary to the figures produced at TfNs board meeting, which stated staff availability was 78%, far higher than trains operated.

- There is mention of drivers retiring or leaving causing a dire shortage.
- New drivers cannot be minded in the cab due to social distancing.

but crucially...

- They state that they now have little or no jurisdiction over Northern, that now sits with TfN (which TfGM sits on the board of, with the other PTEs). This change occured since the demise of Arriva on 01st Mar 2020.
I'm lost in the whole saga. What does it take to get Northern to put on replacement buses to cover for their staff shortages? And will this carry on beyond September when the current scheduled timetable shows later trains?
 

yorksrob

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I left feedback on the TfN board meeting enquiring about the lack of trains on the S&C and Little North Western lines at the weekend.

It will be interesting to see whether I recieve anything back.
 

Howardh

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Hi, we are working with the DfT to restore our services but cannot advise when a particular route will change, apologies. ^IB
they tweet back. It's absolutely infuriating - they won't even provide bustitutions. What do Northern want from Dft? Aren't they supposed to be running the service alongside DfT due to the franchise being removed?
 

Howardh

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I left feedback on the TfN board meeting enquiring about the lack of trains on the S&C and Little North Western lines at the weekend.

It will be interesting to see whether I recieve anything back.
How do you contact TfN? Thanks

A further twitter reply
At this stage we are unable to confirm when these services will resume and I apologise for this Howard. The team are working with DfT and Network Rail to restore as many asare possible each week. Apologies that we can't offer more help at this time. ^DS
 
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Killingworth

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I have a few mates who work for Northern and it seems they're taking an age to do 'risk assessments' to bring drivers and guards they class as vulnerable back to work, which could explain the shortage. Many of these staff want to return, but can't because of these risk assessments.
Risk assessments are now required to do almost anything, anywhere. They're designed to keep us safe. Across the nation every business, charity and even community volunteer group is having to go through this. In an already risk averse society it is responsible for delaying or disrupting the return to normal working practices of countless millions.

Health professionals and unions see it as protecting us from infection - and it does. Those doing the risk assessments are frustrated by changing instructions from above. They can't do right for doing wrong. No sooner is one signed off and circulated than a revision is needed.

I'd go on, but I'd be at risk of assessment for shunting into another thread!
 

Howardh

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Risk assessments are now required to do almost anything, anywhere. They're designed to keep us safe. Across the nation every business, charity and even community volunteer group is having to go through this. In an already risk averse society it is responsible for delaying or disrupting the return to normal working practices of countless millions.

Health professionals and unions see it as protecting us from infection - and it does. Those doing the risk assessments are frustrated by changing instructions from above. They can't do right for doing wrong. No sooner is one signed off and circulated than a revision is needed.

I'd go on, but I'd be at risk of assessment for shunting into another thread!
I can understand the frustration of the staff. But it's the poor paying traveller that's being denied a service,and if these risk assessments allow daytime trains to run at reasonable frequency, why not evening? And bus drivers will, I'm sure, have these assessments, so that doesn't prevent bustitutions.
 

Killingworth

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I can understand the frustration of the staff. But it's the poor paying traveller that's being denied a service,and if these risk assessments allow daytime trains to run at reasonable frequency, why not evening? And bus drivers will, I'm sure, have these assessments, so that doesn't prevent bustitutions.
Fair points. Especially when many bus and coach companies are in a dire financial position and longing to get any work.

However, running full rail services with depleted staff numbers means hard choices and the least used are those most likely to be cut. Evening trains are normally less used than during the day. Most services are currently even more lightly used than in the past.

Given the numbers not going to work, especially during school holidays, I'd have thought running a full day time East Yorkshire coast service might be a priority. Hopefully it soon will be.
 

Howardh

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Fair points. Especially when many bus and coach companies are in a dire financial position and longing to get any work.

However, running full rail services with depleted staff numbers means hard choices and the least used are those most likely to be cut. Evening trains are normally less used than during the day. Most services are currently even more lightly used than in the past.

Given the numbers not going to work, especially during school holidays, I'd have thought running a full day time East Yorkshire coast service might be a priority. Hopefully it soon will be.
I get that argument, but even low-use servies get bustitutions when there are engineering works. And people are returning to the city centres to work in hospitality who need to get home after 11pm.
In Bolton we CAN get home after 2230 - using the 36 or 8 buses, which take around an hour + and don't have toilets of course. Yet again we need a fast, direct bus service in addition to the "normal" one, but nothing.
 

yorksrob

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Fair points. Especially when many bus and coach companies are in a dire financial position and longing to get any work.

However, running full rail services with depleted staff numbers means hard choices and the least used are those most likely to be cut. Evening trains are normally less used than during the day. Most services are currently even more lightly used than in the past.

Given the numbers not going to work, especially during school holidays, I'd have thought running a full day time East Yorkshire coast service might be a priority. Hopefully it soon will be.
Yet other rail providers have managed to ramp up services to a much greater extent. TPE for example manage to run services throughout the day for example. Why are these risk assessments taking longer for Northern rather than other companies. Surely best practice should be followed across the railway industry, which should enable Northern to run a core service for the whole day (by which I mean later than half past six in the evening !).
 

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A further reply to me today from Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris. He echos some but not all claims made by both Northern and TfGM.

Letter from DfT said:
"At this stage, NTL is not operating many late-evening services, which are regularly affected by overnight engineering"

"NTL expects (trains 2200-2320) to be reintroduced as part of the September uplift (the exact date is yet to be confirmed),
however, (later services) will remain suspended in the September timetable change."

Regarding the EMA - Called an SLA at Northern
"NTL has a services (level) agreement in place, but due to the impacts of Covid 19, the agreement is still being refined and going through the review process. It has not yet been published but there are plans to do so later this year on the gov.uk website."
Of note - he avoids mentioning the (alleged) staffing (non-) issue.
 

Jamesrob637

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Twaddle. About TWO late-night trains per day are affected by engineering works on the ENTIRE Northern network. Surprised that they didn't refer to things as "roadworks".
 

northernchris

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They don't want to run trains full stop.
I suspect this is partly true. Northern just don't seem as interested as the other operators in providing a decent service, and I fear the service levels seen earlier this year won't return for many months. TPE are a good comparison as they have traincrew bases in many locations that Northern have, so you would expect absence levels to be broadly similar where this is the case, yet TPE are managing to run a good service with the longest possible trains. OLR seem to be doing everything they can to discourage passengers from travelling
 

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Annoyingly, the letter sent from the minister was unexpectedly polite and sympathetic. Currently preparing a (polite) response regarding his reply.

I get the impression his answers were given to him by a DfT Director, and he simply may not have realised the reasons are about as watertight as Swiss cheese.
 

Fisherman80

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Posted on the Friends of the Settle Carlisle line Twitter feed.:

"So far we’ve persuaded Northern to put back an early morning commuter train from Ribblehead to Leeds and put in bus from KSW & Appleby to Carlisle. Next improvement scheduled for 14th Sept, we’re told will be 85% of normal."
Absolutely pathetic.

Well done though to The friends of the Settle to Carlisle line for putting pressure on Northern.
 
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yorksrob

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Posted on the Friends of the Settle Carlisle line Twitter feed......."So far we’ve persuaded Northern to put back an early morning commuter train from Ribblehead to Leeds and put in bus from KSW & Appleby to Carlisle. Next improvement scheduled for 14th Sept, we’re told will be 85% of normal."

Absolutely pathetic.

Well done though to The friends of the Settle to Carlisle line for putting pressure on Northern.
14th September ?

Absolutely abysmal. The FoSC has to cajole the TOC to put on a half decent service, and then three and a half months after train services were supposed to return to something approaching normal, we'll only be at 85%.

Northern Rail really is a rotten edifice, whoever is in charge.
 

Killingworth

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I was thinking Hope Valley was doing well, and weekdays it is, but just realised the Sunday service is reduced from hourly to 2 hourly at a time when the Peak District is choked with cars. It's the Sunday west side working hours issue on top of everything else.
 

Jamesrob637

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Hazel Grove/Manchester airport - Blackpool North had another increase Monday this week in addition to the increase in the 6th of this month.
17:55 looks to be the last Blackpool North to Airport. Were you referring to gaps being plugged during "office hours?" Hazel Grove I believe has been hourly throughout, but some services were booked 3-car: they're all booked 6-car now, even the very first and last trains of the day. Hopefully Airports are booked 6-car also.
 

Howardh

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Five random last trains today;
Manchester to...
Hazel Grove; 2144
Bolton 2231
Wigan 2240
Stockport 2248
Eccles 2340.

Lucky Eccles.
 

Greybeard33

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For those who believe that Northern should now have enough traincrew available to run more services than are in the current emergency timetable, there is a more detailed explanation in a Northern letter to Andrew Gwynne MP, dated 22 July and quoted on the Rose Hill Marple thread:
Following the first phase of our Key Worker Timetable which launched in late March we have been uplifting services on a periodic basis under the principles of reliability, capacity provision and resilience agreed with our clients. It will not be possible for us to restore service levels to pre COVID levels for some time due to the number of colleagues who are classified as vulnerable; the amount of training still to be completed on both our new trains/Class 769 fleet and the natural attrition of operational staff (with their replacements still to be trained).
Like other train operators, we paused all training where social distancing could not be maintained from the start of the pandemic. This has affected our training pipeline for drivers in particular; and we are currently working with our trade union colleagues at a local and national level to risk assess how we can safely switch this training back on.
https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...r-rose-hill-marple.206872/page-3#post-4684542
 

yorksrob

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Out of interest, are staff on the lines west of Skipton generally self contained, or do they share their duties with other routes ?
 

45107

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Out of interest, are staff on the lines west of Skipton generally self contained, or do they share their duties with other routes ?
I can’t comment directly on the Northern situation.
My guess is that that under normal circumstances / working timetable operation, they are interlinked with other services. I would like to think that are self contained to an extent that any disruption (or sickness/absence) doesn’t adversely affect other services. By doing this, I suspect that this would increase the number of crews required as the diagrams are generally less efficient (but more robust)
 
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