Why are Northern allowed to cancel Sunday Services seemingly at will?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Puffing Devil, 20 Apr 2019.

  1. Aivilo

    Aivilo Member

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    Far to many variables to even begin to explain. One thing worth noting is that alot of drivers are still trained not on 195s which are all airport bound.
     
  2. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    Putting aside the fact that this would not be tolerable to ASLEF for a minute . From the companies perspective it is also not a great way achieve changes within a reasonably swift timetable , or with any degree of certainty . The topic of this thread is to do with Sunday services and the issue is that Sundays for one group of drivers in the Northern franchise are outside of the working week so I will use that as my example .

    If you had started recruiting all new drivers on a contract which had Sundays inside the working week when the franchise started that would still only be a small proportion of drivers probably not enough to cover all of the Sunday work . Turnover in the driving grade is rather low , even at Northern who due to being one of the lowest paid TOC's for drivers do lose drivers to other TOC's and FOC's . And the other issue is that it would give your plan of implementing Sunday working an open ended timescale . Staff turnover is entirely unpredictable . You might lose 15 drivers at one depot over the next 12 months to other F/TOC's , retirement , medical restriction . But then again you might only lose 5 or even 0 . It is unpredictable , open ended and would not result in any-more of a reliable Sunday service than present . If anything it would probably make matters worse as what little numbers who currently dont have it in the working week but volunteer anyway could stop on principle .

    The imposition of contract changes like this would also be problematic for smaller depots . Some of the smaller depots rarely if ever recruit externally because there is already a waiting list of drivers from other depots wanting to transfer in . So those depots would take decades to get any drivers there with Sunday working included in their contract .
     
  3. syorksdeano

    syorksdeano Member

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    Well it's Friday and so far no notice if cancellations. Surely they would know by now what the case was.

    I've seen one tweet a few weeks ago where Northern told customers to check the website on Saturday to see if their train was running, which is totally unacceptable
     
  4. DC2001

    DC2001 Member

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    Usually they announce that there will be planned cancellations sometime on Friday afternoon but they don't actually show which trains are cancelled until Saturday/Sunday. The replacement bus timetable is never made public until Sunday.
     
  5. DC2001

    DC2001 Member

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    It's three of the usual affected routes this weekend. Again no additional stop orders appear to have been made despite services making extra calls within the same timings during the weekday peak.

     
  6. Killingworth

    Killingworth Established Member

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    One trip down the Hope Valley cancelled today, 8.31 from Piccadilly and return from Sheffield at 10.17. "This service was cancelled throughout due to an issue with the train crew (TG)."

    The Peak District was heaving with cars, bikes and walkers today. Cars parked everywhere. An accident at Hathersage blocked the main road for a time and the 272 bus was diverted into Sheffield via the A57. The railway should be picking up lots more of these people, at present only carrying about 2% at best. It can't be relied upon, so why risk it when the modern car's a much more flexible and reliable way to travel?
     
  7. DC2001

    DC2001 Member

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    With staff morale being so low (generally speaking) in the western side and train crew not being contractually obliged to work Sunday's these cancellations will continue.

    This weekend saw 7 diagrams fully cancelled as planned cancellations (along with other unplanned cancellations):
    • Manchester Victoria – Blackpool North: Customers are advised to use other train services between Manchester and Blackpool. In addition, rail replacement services will be running between Blackpool North - Layton and Preston – Bolton (3 diagrams)
    • Lancaster – Morecambe: Full rail replacement service in operation (1 diagram)
    • Wigan – Stalybridge : Replacement bus from Wigan to Bolton (via Westhoughton) Replacement bus from Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge (3 diagrams)

    It doesn't help that the 'planned cancellations' mean several stations with no trains at all. Personally at least some of this could be avoided if the planned cancellations were on services calling at stations which see 2tph (trains per hour) and putting longer trains on remaining services (where possible)
    For example:
    • Cancel all Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport services - stations between Liverpool and Manchester Oxford Road are served by the stopper. Frequent connections are available at Manchester Oxford Road to Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport. East Didsbury and Manchester Airport would still be served by the all stops on the Styal Line Chat Moss stopper. Birchwood could be served by additional stop orders on the Liverpool to Norwich route if East Midlands Railway (EMR) were willing to do this (if not it is still served by the stopper) The other stops are also served by EMR Saves 3tph
    • Reduce frequency of the Manchester Piccadilly to Glossop/Hadfield services to 1tph. All stops would still be served hourly and turnaround time at Piccadily would be slightly greater reducing risk of knock on delays. Alternatively miss out every third service and keep current turnaround times. Saves 1tph
    • Terminate/start Manchester Airport/Manchester Oxford Road (some AM) to Blackpool North services at Preston. Kirkham & Wesham, Poulton-le-Fylde & Blackpool North are all served by alternative services including the Blackpool North to Manchester Victoria service. Saves 1tph Or cancel all services to save an additional 3tph (those who need Piccadilly/Airport can change at Victoria or get the tram if travelling from a GM station- they could even see if TransPennine Express (TPE) would relax their no travel between Bolton and Manchester policy) Heald Green is served by the all stops on the Styal Line Chat Moss stopper.
    • Terminate Barrow/Windermere services at Preston. Passengers for Wigan can change onto the Virgin to Euston at either Lancaster or Preston. Passengers for Manchester could use either the Northern or TPE services between Preston and Manchester Airport. Passengers between Wigan and Manchester could use services from Wigan Wallgate or the Stalybridge service via Bolton- those desperate for Piccadilly or Manchester Airport can change at Salford Crescent. Saves 2tph
    • Terminate/start Leeds to Blackpool North services at Preston so no need for crew between Preston and Blackpool North. Poulton-le-Fylde & Blackpool North are all served by alternative services. Saves 1tph
    Obviously the above, saving 11 diagrams, would be unpopular for many however would allow for more comfortable journeys from stations which have had replacement bus services. If there still aren't enough crew for the remaining diagrams then odd diagrams can be cancelled from other routes (as usually happens).

    Please correct me if there are any mistakes/station which would end up not being served.
     
  8. scrapy

    scrapy Established Member

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    Your problem is that unless these become permenent changes then you end up creating many more STP (short term planning) diagrams, and drivers do not have to come in for these, so the service is likely to deteriorate further. Another problem is that some of the routes suggested for saving diagrams are very busy including Manchester to Preston. For example you are suggesting Preston to Blackpool should reduce from 4 to 2 trains per hour. Great in theory, and may work in winter but given that 4 trains are full and standing at this time of year and will be through the illuminations, where do the extra passengers go? Again Liverpool to Manchester stoppers are very busy. Also Blackpool is a traincrew depot so by running fewer services there would often mean crews who would have been working the now non running trains travelling passenger on the limited other services, extending the time it takes to get to Preston as they'll then have to wait around for example to work a York service, which means they may not be able to be as productive during their diagram.

    The above plan seems more focussed on saving unit diagrams than traincrew ones.

    Yes some stations are unserved by trains and there should be better replacement buses, but the routes have been selected to have the least impact on the majority. Morecambes are lightly loaded, and are very crew intensive as they crew are only needed for 30 minutes each hour, and have to travel from either Blackpool, Wigan, Barrow or Skipton. For Stalybridge to Wigan, which are also lightly loaded the only stations without an alternative train service are Ashton (which has Metrolink for which ticket acceptance should be granted) and Westhoughton (where the town is also served by Daisy Hill station). On Manchester Victoria to Blackpool services I would suggest serving Lostock, Blackrod and Adlington (Blackrod and Adlington could be 2 hourly if pathing too tight) by reducing calls at Buckshaw and Horwich to hourly still supplemented by replacement bus.

    Local stations between Todmorden and Manchester Vic should at the least have a bus replacement but feasibility of running a Todmorden to Manchester Vic shuttle should be looked at as a priority. Blackburn to Burnley already served by York/Colne trains.

    Manchester Piccadilly depot seem less affected by Sunday shortages than other depots on the West, so whilst there will be odd cancellations I think by cutting the Hadfield services won't have much of an impact elsewhere. I think the Sheffield cancellation mentioned was due to not having a driver signing the route rather than not having a driver in the depot whereas all Piccadilly drivers sign to Hadfield. On occasions where Piccadilly are short the Hadfields have been reduced and Hazel Groves culled.
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2019
  9. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    Given it is a known fact that train staff in certain areas are not contractually expected to work on Sundays, how would this particular matter be seen by the DfT when each new franchise is granted when the timetabling of Sunday services are part of the franchise requirement?
     
  10. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    That's something the TOC cannot guarantee to deliver & the DfT are well aware of. It all ends up in the usual muddle as it has for the last 20 plus years. I see nothing changing unless they offer the unions a gold plated deal.
     
  11. DC2001

    DC2001 Member

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    Yes, I just thought of services which could be cancelled on routes which still have other services.

    Weekday early morning and evening services all call at all stops between Preston and Bolton, leaving Blackpool North about 5 minutes earlier. If these could be strengthened either with additional stop orders each week or just added to the timetable at the next timetable change. They did add these on 07/08 calling additionally at Leyland, Adlington & Blackrod 11:00 & 12:00 ex-Blackpool with the train to Manchester Airport being on time by Piccadilly and the Oxford Road service being only a couple of minutes late; these had more passengers than they usually would due to previous trains being cancelled with a problem at Salford Crescent. Towards Blackpool the 22:43 (regular service) calls at Lostock, Blackrod and Leyland and tends to be a couple of minutes early in Blackpool being booked to take 2 minutes longer than the regular daytime services which don't call.
    Most Northern staff that I have spoken to are confused as to why these stops aren't served.

    Ticket acceptance should be arranged and potentially still a bus service to Bolton and Daisy Hill.
     
  12. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    There should have been open discussion with the rail unions prior to the award of the last Northern franchise, where the rail unions' stated position of not having their staff contracted to work on a Sunday publically put into the public domain and on news media, with the result being the new franchise not being required to operate Sunday services.
     
  13. Matt_pool

    Matt_pool Member

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    Several cancellations yesterday (Sunday 25/8/19) on the LIV - MCO route, including the 20.26 - "This service was cancelled throughout due to an issue with the train crew (TH).".

    I didn't fancy waiting an hour for the 21.26 with dozens of other people who had been drinking all day on a roasting hot day, and then crammed onto what was probably a 2 car Pacer, so I got the bus home. Not everyone had that option!

    P.S. I won't go into detail about today's cancellations!
     
  14. Gems

    Gems Member

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    Yes but the old Arriva Rail North and First North Western came together when Abelio had the franchise, and I can't ever remember this level of disruption then. It was left to tick along, and tick along it did.
    Then this government came along and decided they wanted to go to war with the unions. When have you ever seen a Tory government seek union dialogue? Unless some common ground can be found to resurrect the drivers harmonisation, which looks unlikely, nothing will change.
     
  15. 45107

    45107 Member

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    Do you have anything to back up the claim that the “rail unions stated position of not having their staff contracted to work on a Sunday”

    As numerous posters have said in various threads, the ASLEF position appears to be to include Sundays inside the working week and this has been agreed at a number of TOCs in recent years.
    I cannot comment on the RMT position.
     
  16. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    In the eight years that I have been a member of this website, I have seen quite a number of postings in threads concerning Northern that have stated such a position.
     
  17. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    The left-wing Socialist rhetoric in some of the RMT press releases over recent years seemed to suggest they were already at war with the Government and welcoming that fact.
     
  18. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    As there's reasonably good evidence to support the claimed made by many forum members that this disruption is likely to continue every Sunday for the foreseeable future, one question I would have is why stand-by bus contracts haven't been made, to ensure that at least some buses and drivers will be available to be used as directed on the day.

    All too often when these cancellations occur, they are taken by surprise and don't seem to have enough buses to serve stations where trains are withdrawn at the last minute.

    In my view, Northern should also be much more ready to arrange taxis for passengers who miss connections or are left behind by trains too full to board. They're saving rather a lot of money by not paying the drivers for days they aren't contracted to work, so there should be money available for 'customer care'.
    How often does this happen in practice?
     
    Last edited: 26 Aug 2019
  19. 45107

    45107 Member

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    Try this
    https://www.aslef.org.uk/charter.html

    Are the Unions opposed to Sunday working ?

    Yes or No ?
     
  20. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    If the answer is "No", then the aspirations of ASLEF (whose link you quote above giving their view on DOO near to the foot of the article) are then somewhat frustrated by members of the RMT union who are not contractually obliged to work on a Sunday. A train with a driver available but no conductor/guard does not go anywhere.

    It is the fact that there have been postings made on this website that certain members of the RMT rail union take the view that as they are not contractually obliged to work on a Sunday, then it is their right not to make themselves available for work.
     
  21. DI1964

    DI1964 Member

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    It may well be the ASLEF leadership who want Sundays in the working week, but it's certainly not the view of the members who have recently voted on this matter and very strongly rejected it.
     
  22. 45107

    45107 Member

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    Any particular TOC ? A number of them already have Sunday working agreements
     
  23. DC2001

    DC2001 Member

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    I think that most passengers prefer occasional cancellations throughout the day to planned cancelations of all services at a specific station.

    The problem with providing replacement bus services is they often miss out stops leaving people stranded waiting, particularly at smaller unstaffed stations and all the staff answering help points seem to do is apologise and say that the bus has started its journey and should be along shortly; sometimes they advise walking to an alternative station (which isn't always practical)

    Usually to get a taxi you have to complain about no service, wait, complain again, wait and then they look into taxis on the third complaint. I think that this is so some people abandon their journey.
     
  24. DI1964

    DI1964 Member

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    Northern.

    The subject of this thread.
     
  25. Moonshot

    Moonshot Established Member

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    This is very true, and until the day comes when drivers do vote for that, then the service issues on Sundays will remain.
     
  26. Eccles1983

    Eccles1983 On Moderation

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    That's not entirely correct.

    The issue wasn't about Sundays exclusively. It was a package that was unreasonable to say the least. A lot of working practices were set to be changed.

    Sundays were the least of the issues. Most drivers accept that Sundays will come in the working week.
     
  27. AMD

    AMD Member

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    If you speak to drivers you will find that the matter is not as black and white as this - the majority of drivers accept that rostered Sundays will happen eventually, however the recent 'New Deal for Drivers' was rejected because the drivers looked into how many Sundays the company could potentially get them working and it came out at 'most of them'; this element of the deal created a lot of the negativity because the drivers want to keep their work life balance that they have and there was a risk of having to work potentially 3 Sundays in a month if rosters were really clever.
     
  28. scrapy

    scrapy Established Member

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    I don't think it's so clear cut. There are many drivers who will quite happily have Sundays in the working week but it was widely acknowledged that that was a bad deal and left many questions unanswered about how rest days and shift patterns could be altered. It was also acknowledged late on that it wouldn't work and there would still be shifts uncovered so the company would try and force more Sundays in. There were too many things that were said verbally but not actually in the document that was being voted on. The deal was also not just about Sundays but also about harmonizing conditions, something that should have possibly been negotiated separately.
     
  29. DC2001

    DC2001 Member

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    Given that the Sunday timetable has fewer services than the weekday/Saturday timetable, I imagine that that drivers would work roughly 5/8 (or less) Sundays on a 5-day week or 1/2 on a 4-day week; most drivers (I imagine) would also prefer to work a Saturday & Sunday of the same weekend and then not the following weekend rather than working Saturday one weekend and Sunday the next.

    There probably are some staff who find it preferable to work weekends and have their rest days in the week when everywhere is quieter and ideally this would be accommodated for.
     
  30. mandub

    mandub Member

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    Exactly. How ASLEF ever agreed to the document stating drivers would work a minimum of 1 in 4 Sundays but not stating a maximum number we could be rostered to work beggars belief.
     

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