A metro mayor of has claimed a quick victory over cuts to rail services in his area but warned the train operator that ‘the jury’s out’ on whether it can be trusted.
Following a meeting with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer (pictured), train operator CrossCountry has announced it is reinstating the stops at Manea and Whittlesea stations which it axed last week.
Mr Palmer said he had been quick to contact the rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris and local MPs to seek help in overturning CrossCountry’s decision to axe stops, ‘which further downgraded the already sparse service for Fenland passengers’.
He added that he would keep up pressure on the operator and warned that it was ‘now up to everybody’ to protect their existing services and get behind his efforts to improve them.
Mr Palmer said: ‘I am thankful that Cross Country has stepped up and corrected this dreadful decision. These are lifeline services for Fenland people. They need more, not less of them, and we’ll hold CrossCountry firmly to account that this restitution is genuine and permanent and passengers can rely on them. Their backtracking is welcome but there must be no backsliding.’
He added: ‘I think it is time we start asking the more fundamental question: Can Fenland trust this operator to work with the combined authority for the good of the community, work with us to improve services, to help link people to opportunities, and to help them benefit from levelling up?
‘The jury’s out, and I’ll be liaising closely with the Department for Transport to ensure CrossCountry starts increasing services as the economy recovers, rather than decreasing them.’
A CrossCountry trains approaches Whittlesea Station
CrossCountry’s regional director, Richard Morris, said: ‘Since the Coronavirus forced us to look at temporarily changing our timetables we’ve been working to find a solution that allows us to keep running our services for customers in the Fenlands.
‘We are pleased we’ve been able to ensure rail users at Manea and Whittlesea returning to work or education will be able to continue using our services, and look forward to working with Mayor Palmer, the combined authority and other stakeholders to ensure rail plays its part in the region’s emergence from the ongoing pandemic.’