'Promises can no longer be broken,' TfN warns

 

Northern mayors and council leaders have called for deadlines and final demands to be issued to the operators of the region’s unreliable rail services on pain of losing the franchise.

Sub-national transport body Transport for the North (TfN) agreed on Wednesday to press ministers to terminate the Northern Rail franchise, as well as setting a deadline for Transpennine Express to improve services or lose its contract.

It also supported the expansion of Manchester Piccadilly station.

However officers behind the scenes in TfN also found major issues with regional infrastructure that had hampered the train operating companies' (TOC) progress.

A meeting of the Rail North Committee saw ‘strong and pointed discussions’, with politicians grilling bosses from both firms and making it clear that ‘promises can no longer be broken.’ TfN said.

This was followed by a meeting of the TfN Board, which discussed what ‘advice’ it should give transport secretary Grant Shapps ‘on infrastructure enhancements in the Manchester area to support wider rail reliability’.

As TfN has pointed out, despite its statutory status, its main role is to advise ministers on transport decisions affecting the region.

Infrastructure issues

A report to the TfN board revealed that not all of the issues are of theTOC's making. 

Current infrastructure in Central Manchester ‘does not support all the services that have been committed in the Northern franchise,' the document said.

This means that some train services 'that have been contracted in the current franchises are not able to operate; and services that do run have far lower reliability than is required, both in Manchester and across the north of England’.

The paper added that Network Rail has concluded that with no single solution to cross-Manchester congestion, ‘the strategic choices are: investment in the infrastructure; some reduction to the train service; or accept the very poor reliability that is a consequence of using the existing infrastructure so intensively’.

iT also noted that some ‘Northern Hub’ works due in Control Period 5 (2014 – 2019) such as works to enable 16 trains per hour to run on the Castlefield corridor, including two additional through platforms (15 and 16) at Manchester Piccadilly have not yet been started and are awaiting ministerial approval.

Attending the meeting on behalf of Mr Shapps, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris reportedly said that the transport secretary ‘understands the need for investment in Manchester bottleneck that is delaying trains’ and that consideration of the process to consider the Northern franchise ‘is nearing completion and could be a matter of weeks away’.

On Thursday, Mr Shapps said in a written statement that he planned to announce his decision by the end of the month.

He reminded MPs that his ongoing consideration of whether to replace the Northern franchise with a short-term management contract under existing operator Arriva Rail North (ARN) or whether the DfT would have to step in as an operator of last resort was ‘triggered by concern over the financial position of ARN’.

He stated: ‘It has now been confirmed to me from the most recent available financial information that the franchise will only be able to continue for a number of months.’

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Senior Engineer (Development Control)

Wrexham County Borough Council
£36,876 - £39,782 per annum
We are looking to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified candidate to work within the Contracts and Engineering team Wrexham (Wrecsam)
Recuriter: Wrexham County Borough Council

Strategic Director Growth and Regeneration

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director Environment and Climate Change

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£119,940 to £131,935
A decade of investment invites the opportunity of a decade! Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Funeral Operative (As and When)

Brent Council
£24,462 - £26,274 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
The person will not need previous experience in funeral services as full training will be given but experience would be an advantage. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Senior Engineer – Transport Policy

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£38,800 - £52,600
This is an exciting opportunity to improve road safety and create healthy streets in a busy and dynamic central London borough. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Environmental Health Officer / Health and Safety Practitioner

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£33,600 - £45,400 per annum plus performance related pay
The ideal candidate will have a detailed knowledge/understanding of Health and Safety legislation.  Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Head of Operations

Rossendale Borough Council
£49,408 - £52,899
The Head of Operations is a key leader in the Senior Management Team. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Commercial Officer

Rossendale Borough Council
£25,801 - £29,636
We are keen to improve our recycling levels, tackle the climate change agenda and take pride in our open spaces. Rossendale, Lancashire
Recuriter: Rossendale Borough Council

Principal Electrical Asset Officer

Birmingham City Council
£34,788-£42,683
The role requires the post holder to be a key technical specialist for the Authority’s Highways Electrical Asset Management function, providing... Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Transport Planning Officer 

Plymouth City Council
£32,878 - £42,683
This is a full time position (37 hours per week) with flexible working arrangements. Plymouth, Devon
Recuriter: Plymouth City Council

Highways & Drainage Team Manager

Newport City Council
£37,849 - £40,760
You will be skilled at analysing multiple sources of information, making excellent decisions, and driving difficult situations towards a... Newport (Casnewydd)
Recuriter: Newport City Council

Senior Environmental Health Officer (Housing Lead)

Mole Valley District Council
£37,821 - £42,329
An exciting opportunity for a Senior Environmental Health Officer to join our forward thinking Environmental Health Partnership Oxted, Surrey
Recuriter: Mole Valley District Council

Street Works Compliance Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £34017 per annum
This opportunity is to be offered on a 6-month, fixed term / secondment contract basisInterviews scheduled to be held Friday 17th April Job Purpose Es England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highway Electrical Maintenance & Installation Operative (Street Lighting) Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice x 3

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Safety, Health & Environment Technician Apprentice

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
National minimum wage, currently £8.20 in first 12 months, increasing to £8.72 thereafter
If you are looking for hands on experience and learning on the job then an apprenticeship could be the right route for you. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Strategic Director, Environment & Regeneration

Brent Council
Circa £155,000
Brent is the Borough of Cultures - the most diverse in London - and as a Council we believe in delivering for our communities. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Street Cleansing Operative x6

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,466.00 - £20,835.00
This role will involve working as an individual as well as part of a team, litter pick the streets in the local area, empty the litter bins. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Assistant Engineer - Grade 3

Northumberland County Council
£27,905 - £31,371
Assistant Engineer (Structures) - Band 7 (SCP 24-28) The Council Northumberland County Council operates a huge range of services across one of the ... County Hall, Morpeth
Recuriter: Northumberland County Council