The Scandal Of Northern Rail, Not To Mention Merseyrail Too?

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper

has welcomed the Transport Secretary’s comments on Northern rail, but renews her calls for less talk and more action.

She states “I have taken every opportunity through Prime Minister’s Questions and Questions to the Transport Secretary to make clear to Government just how bad my constituents and commuters in the north have been treated over a long period of time. I of course welcome the comments from the Transport Secretary but what we need now is action and not just more talk. We need to see a new operator in place, trains running on time and urgent investment in carriages on Northern’s services.

“I have been inundated with complaints from residents about Northern’s outrageously poor service during the last two years, and even over the Christmas period passengers were left stranded because of wholesale cancellations. There is a duty to provide a rail service fit for the needs of passengers, passengers who pay their taxes and their fares but get little in return.

“Northern should be stripped of its franchise immediately because of its abysmal performance and commuters including my West Lancashire constituents given a fair deal”.

But what about Merseyrail? Not its service, but its finances. Bulk central government grants because Merseyside’s transport system needs them. But the boundary here is at Maghull. Discrimination against elderly and disabled West Lancastrians for off peak concessionary travel starts at Maghull. Who is doing anything about it? Your guess is as good as ours. But do look at the Merseyrail profits that go to Serco/Arbellio!

Back in November 2018 MP Rosie was writing “My constituents will be very pleased that normal service will resume for those passengers using the Ormskirk line, following the completion of the platform upgrade work. This represents good progress in bringing new trains on to the network and the future extension of services to Skelmersdale which will be very welcome when they arrive”.

Merseyrail’s Suzanne Grant and MP Rosie Cooper at Ormskirk station

As announced by Merseytravel on Monday the successful completion of the Ormskirk work will now be followed by another 10 stages on both the Northern and Wirral lines, until their completion next June. The work will involve re-modelling a total of 100 platforms and realigning track at 58 stations”. Normal discriminatory service? 

Andy Heath, Managing Director at Merseyrail announced “It’s fantastic news that the Ormskirk line is now ready for the new fleet of trains and we’re pleased that passengers now have their usual service restored when it was promised. A lot of work had gone into minimising disruption as much as possible while this work took place, and both high-quality rail replacement buses and our customer service staff were available to help keep everyone moving.

“This is the largest investment in the network since the 1970s and is vital to prepare it for the arrival of the new state-of-the-art trains in 2020 which includes pioneering sliding step technology which will result unassisted access for all our passengers”. Investment? When the bulk of the Ormskirk Station renovation funding was predominantly paid by Lancashire County Council taxpayers? Over £1million? It’s another public funding scandal that needs audit by a public judicial hearing! As for the unassisted access, for disabled people, the stench of hypocrisy from Liverpool City Region and Merseytravel is rank!

The Merseytravel pass for elderly and disabled, aged 60 onwards,

reads “Concessionary travel funded by HM Government with your local authority”.  Where is the reciprocal HM Government funding for West Lancashire residents?

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