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Sadly there seems to have been no reprieve for local commuters as problems continue to plague our local trains.

Some months ago, in an email to one of my constituents, the Northern Rail Regional Director who covers our area said that he looks after 14 different lines on the network and yet 90% of all complaints come from Bolton.

I continue to engage with the rail operators to ensure that my constituents know what is happening and why, and to push them to improve the quality of services as quickly as possible.

This morning my Twitter is filled with messages like these:

 

People depend on services to turn up so that they can get to work, and nobody should ever be forced to spend a trip into Manchester squashed into a toilet with two other people.

I have written to Northern this morning to raise specific concerns about the way people have been treated today.

On 20th April I will be meeting representatives from Northern, First Transpennine Express and Network Rail. I’m certain we will discuss issues like electrification, overcrowding, reliability, short-formed trains, the loss of our Scottish services, and customer service/information.

I will be asking for clear steps to resolve the problems that Bolton residents face every day. Long term promises about improvements five years from now might sound nice, but I’ve been hearing promises like that for the last twenty years, local residents need real help now.

 

Update: 16:15 17/4/18

I have received the following message from Liam Sumpter, Regional Director at Northern, following my complaint on behalf of local residents about the terrible service this morning.

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Cancelled or packed - Bolton's trains

Sadly there seems to have been no reprieve for local commuters as problems continue to plague our local trains. Some months ago, in an email to one of my constituents,...

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Last month I wrote a blog to highlight the Delay Repay scheme. If your train journey is delayed by 30 minutes or more, for whatever reason, you are due compensation. You can find details of the scheme here - https://www.davidcrausby.co.uk/get_a_refund_for_your_delayed_train_journey

However, several local residents have also raised some concerns about the way Northern run their scheme.

I submitted questions to the Transport Secretary, and I have now received answers.

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Local commuters who use System One travel cards, entitling them to travel on both trains and buses, have been repeatedly told by Northern that they are not eligible for the Delay Repay scheme. This clear statement from the Minister says that they should be paid. I have now raised this with Northern directly and I hope that they will adjust their processes as quickly as possible.

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The biggest complaint about Northern’s Delay Repay scheme is that it can take months to have a claim processed.

Our local commuter services are not ones where you would typically buy an advance ticket for a set travel time, so the automatic compensation scheme mentioned does not reflect the experience of most rail users.

Northern need to get a grip on these long delays and ensure passengers receive the refund they are entitled to in a timely fashion.

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I am aware that some rail franchises are looking to implement a 15 minute standard for Delay Repay (DR15), while Northern currently says you need to be delayed by 30 minutes to qualify.

While I am pleased that new franchises will have this written into the contract, Northern’s current franchise will last until at least 2025 so it will be of little comfort to Bolton residents. I hope that Northern and the Department for Transport can come to an arrangement and introduce DR15 much sooner than that.

I will continue to pursue these matters and push for better local rail services. In the meantime, I’m always happy to raise concerns so please get in touch if you have any issues or questions.

UPDATE: Problems with Delay Repay

Last month I wrote a blog to highlight the Delay Repay scheme. If your train journey is delayed by 30 minutes or more, for whatever reason, you are due compensation....

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It can often feel like dentistry is a forgotten part of our NHS. Fees have risen repeatedly over the last ten years while many have been left unable to access preventative care in their own community.

Last year when I asked for local residents experiences of NHS dentistry I heard from many people who tried to find a dentist but couldn’t and as a result haven’t been for many years.

Today when you look on the NHS Choices website to find a local NHS dentist there aren’t many options. I’m pleased to see there are a few nearby accepting children, but adults in my constituency would have to consider journeys to places like Westhoughton and Atherton.

This problem is reflected in national statistics. The latest figures from NHS Digital reveal that almost half (49%) of all adults in England – a total of 21 million people – have not seen an NHS dentist for over 2 years.

The same data shows that 42% of children – a total of almost 5 million children – have not been to an NHS dentist in the past year, even though NICE advises that all children should visit a dentist at least once every 12 months, and check-ups for under-18s are free.

I am concerned that poor access to simple check-ups and preventative care is passing on problems to the rest of the NHS. I asked the Health Secretary how many people attended A&E with dental issues in the last year and there were more than 18,000.

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Tooth decay remains the leading reason for hospital admissions amongst young children. 43,000 children were admitted to hospital to have multiple teeth extracted under a general anaesthetic due to tooth decay last year, causing them unnecessary stress and pain, and wasting the NHS over £35 million.

GP surgeries and our hospitals are under enough strain without also needing to provide help to those who can’t access or can’t afford to visit an NHS dentist.

The Government need to address these issues. Underfunding dentistry is a false economy and will cost us all more in the long run. I will continue to lobby Government Ministers on this.

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Access to NHS Dentists

It can often feel like dentistry is a forgotten part of our NHS. Fees have risen repeatedly over the last ten years while many have been left unable to access...

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