Posted by: westlancashirerecord | January 5, 2019

Northern Leave Pimbo Residents In Limbo

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper claims Northern have refused to supply rail replacement buses during the continued strike action by their staff unhappy with the company over the role of the train guard and rail safety.

Despite the advance notice given to the rail operator Northern by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) of the strikes, Northern have refused to provide any rail replacement services.

Residents of Pimbo in West Lancashire are angered by the ongoing issues which leave residents with no access to public transport on Saturdays, as there is not even a bus service to rely on.

MP Rosie wrote to Lancashire County Council as the Transport Authority, who stated that ‘it is the responsibility of the rail operator to make contingency plans by, for example, providing replacement bus services for rail strikes’. But Rosie claims “Northern are well aware of the issues they face at the moment providing a wholly unsatisfactory service to passengers for the most part of 2018 and at loggerheads with their own staff over train safety.

“Residents in areas such as Pimbo rely on public transport to keep themselves connected but there seems to be scant regard shown to them by Northern Rail as they didn’t even have the decency to acknowledge the concerns I raised with them. They seem more intent on pointing fingers at the RMT without addressing the fact they are leaving residents stranded. Northern needs to consider their passengers and how their lack of service will affect them as a company in the future”.

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced in December 2015 that the new Northern franchise will be operated by German State Railways subsidiary, Arriva Rail North Limited . Northern was Arriva’s most recent acquisition, when they took it from a 12-year joint venture between Serco and Abellio, in 2016. Then named Northern Rail, the partnership came to an end after Dutch-owned company Serco announced in June 2014 that it intended to split from the UK arm in order to run the line alone. But Serco did not make the final list of bidders put forward by the Department for Transport (DfT) two months later.

Currently caught up in industrial action, workers are striking regularly due to the introduction of driver-only trains. Mick Cash, the General Secretary of the RMT, the union behind the strike, maintains that the “flagrant disregard for safety” will put passenger and worker safety at risk. Alan Chaplin, Managing Director of Arriva Rail North, said “all offers to discuss every detail on the future responsibilities and training for on-board colleagues” have been rejected by the RMT.

None of which is avoiding the despair felt by the public whose need for Saturday public transport is ignored. Chris Burchell  Managing Director of Arriva’s UK Trains division, said “We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform rail travel for passengers in the north of England and to work closely with our partners to connect towns, cities and communities like never before. We will be investing more than £1 billion to deliver a step-change in quality for customers and dramatically improving services, stations, information and ticketing. Our aim is to be the communities’ local railway and to leave a positive lasting legacy for the north of England”.

How does the lack of rail replacement buses connect towns, cities and communities like never before? 

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