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:
at least there’s one thing we can rely on and that’s @northernassist ‘s cancellations and delays. It’s got to the point where no1 is surprised anymore. If they can’t run the service they promise the contract should be take from them @DavidCrausby going to be late for work again pic.twitter.com/DWruEEzU02— Andy spinner Smith (@andycs169) April 17, 2018
.@northernassist have really surpassed themselves this morning. First Bromley Cross train of the day? 15mins late. Second train? Cancelled completely. Third? Massively overcrowded as a result. Fourth? Two carriages not three. 👏👏👏 @DavidCrausby— Jimmy Smallwood (@jimmy_smallwood) April 17, 2018
— Rupert Greenhalgh (@rupe_greenhalgh) April 17, 2018
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.
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,...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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....
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.
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.
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...
Three weeks ago I raised concerns about the use of short-formed trains on local services. Trains that are scheduled to have 3 or 4 carriages are running with just 2.
I tabled some questions to the Transport Secretary in Parliament on this issue.
These figures from across the whole Northern network show that the experience of Bolton residents is far from typical.
On some local routes it would be a good week if just 10% of services ran as short-formed. I know some commuters have been stuck with two or three short-formed trains a week on their daily service going into Manchester.
I also asked about penalties for rail operators:
I will continue to push for a better service for local residents. I am hoping to meet with Northern, Transpennine Express and Network Rail in the near future to discuss the issues that Bolton is facing.
In the meantime, I’m always happy to raise concerns so please get in touch if you have any issues or questions.
Three weeks ago I raised concerns about the use of short-formed trains on local services. Trains that are scheduled to have 3 or 4 carriages are running with just 2....
In my main blog post today I wrote that First Transpennine Express were breaking a promise to Bolton train passengers by failing to restore valued Scottish services. I thought some of my constituents may appreciate some background on this issue.
In 2011 FTPE bought some electric trains. Bolton’s line wasn’t electrified (and still isn’t) but they wanted to bring the new trains into service in 2013. They decided to take the Manchester – Scotland trains which served Bolton and divert them through Wigan so that they could use the trains on an electrified line.
I met with FTPE on 15th November 2013 and I had two main concerns.
1) We needed extra support for other Bolton services during peak times to temporarily fill the gap left by the loss of key commuter services.
2) We needed assurances that this was temporary and these services would return.
At that meeting I was told that the Manchester-Scotland trains would return to Bolton when electrification was finished (at the time expected in 2016).
This is part of the booklet put out by FTPE at the time, indicating to the public that FTPE wanted to restore these services.
This is an extract from an email sent to Bolton Council’s Dave Chadwick demonstrating the scale of the reduction for Bolton commuters.
This is an extract from a further email, sent to one of my constituents, promising that the service would ultimately improve.
I had further meetings with FTPE at my Bolton office on 20th June 2014 and 28th August 2015. In every meeting I have asked them to confirm the Manchester-Scotland link will return to Bolton and been told it will.
I am not the only one to have been given this impression. The Bolton News have repeatedly reported that the service will return, most recently on 5th February 2018.
Despite all of this, as the year began I heard rumours that FTPE were planning to use Bolton’s train line in order to meet their promise on paper, but not allow Bolton residents to board the service.
I wrote to Northern and FTPE to ask for updates on their plans, and this email from Northern dated 18/1/18 confirmed the rumour.
I wanted confirmation in writing directly from FTPE. I had to repeatedly push them for a straight answer, but they have now said the same thing. I received this on 20/3/18.
To get to Edinburgh or Glasgow in peak time, people will still need to take a slow Northern service to Manchester or Wigan first.
Those hoping for relief on the overcrowded trains in and out of Manchester will get no help.
This is a clear broken promise to Bolton residents.
In my main blog post today I wrote that First Transpennine Express were breaking a promise to Bolton train passengers by failing to restore valued Scottish services. I thought some of...
Bolton rail passengers have faced five years of inconvenience and overcrowding with a promise that things would get better.
At the weekend it was reported in the Bolton News that Northern’s new timetable, which starts in May, will have a reduced service for Bolton.
I think most commuters will find this hard to take. After years of complaints about the poor quality of service and the lack of capacity, this feels like a continuing decline.
What hasn’t been widely reported yet is that First Transpennine Express are going back on their word.
We were repeatedly told that they would restore services to Bolton once the electrification work is completed. Today they say they will give us a train that comes through Bolton but won’t stop.
The Manchester-Scotland services will only stop in Bolton in off-peak hours. Even when they do stop they will only let passengers board when the train is heading to Scotland and you can only disembark when the train comes in from Scotland. You will not be able to use these trains to travel to or from Manchester.
Year after year we have been told this is about short term pain for long term benefits. I still believe that there are opportunities to improve the service through electrification but a half-hearted service to Scotland and no help for commuters is no step forward.
I will be writing to both train operators to ask them to meet with me and I will be raising my concerns with the Secretary of State for Transport.
For a more detailed overview of my work to hold FTPE to account on this click here.
Bolton rail passengers have faced five years of inconvenience and overcrowding with a promise that things would get better. At the weekend it was reported in the Bolton News that...
Back in January I wrote of my concern over the frequent use of short-formed trains for local commuter services. Many services that are scheduled to have 3 or 4 carriages are running with just 2. This is particularly bad for passengers boarding at Bromley Cross and Hall i’th’ Wood as there are only a limited number of services on that line.
Northern provided an explanation of the issues they were facing and steps that would be taken to help, focusing on the key 7:29 Bromley Cross-Manchester service.
7 weeks on there has been little in the way of improvement. Almost daily I hear from frustrated commuters who struggle with packed two-carriage trains, and people left behind on platforms because trains are just too full to board.
Seems like there's been no improvement on the #BromleyCross line in the last couple of months when it comes to short-formed trains. I've written to Northern again today and tabled questions for the Transport Secretary. pic.twitter.com/y5noJYf4sC— David Crausby (@DavidCrausby) March 19, 2018
I’ve tabled some written questions to the Secretary of State for Transport about short-formed trains. I hope that the Government will hold rail operators like Northern accountable for failings.
I have also written to Northern again asking for an update. I can now share the response from their Regional Director, Liam Sumpter.
“Firstly I would like to apologise to customers that continue to face an uncomfortable journey on the line from Bromley Cross into Manchester. The Bolton corridor remains very difficult to manage with high numbers of passengers and a very tight timetable. The continued delays to the electrification project are extremely frustrating as they mean we keep having to put off the improvements to the timetable and fleet that would help to alleviate some of the issues your constituents are facing.
In terms of the 0729 service, in the month after we red-flagged it we did see some improvements with it being correctly formed 85% of the time, or 17 out of 20, mornings in the railway performance period (roughly the month of February). Unfortunately, performance since then has suffered with it being short-formed on 4 out of 11 days. The reasons for the deterioration this month are that we have been unable to get the third car to Blackburn in time for it to form the service. The mass protest/trespass at Piccadilly displaced units last Sunday and this service was a victim of that. Adverse weather has contributed to two more of the short-forms and the final one was due to late notice driver sickness.
This service continues to be a focus for us and I get a personal update every day on it to reinforce that. Assuming the weather finally relents then I am hopeful that we will return to the improving level of service witnessed last month though I will continue to focus on it regardless and look at how we can strengthen resilience further.”
@DavidCrausby this morning at 7:30 I wouldn't usually complain about two carriages as you can jam on if it's not two 80s pacers where there is barely any standing room, think two people got on at hall ith Wood pic.twitter.com/ejsU6nh1Vj— jake (@jakeyq) March 22, 2018
Thank you David for pressing home the problem. A traveller collapsed last week on a packed over heated and short formed train on this line. Its a problem in peak hours that isnt being addressed.— Rupert Greenhalgh (@rupe_greenhalgh) March 19, 2018
June 2018 is my 20th year of commuting by train into Manchester. Services have got progressively worse over the last 2 decades. With the extensions to retirement age, the real question is... can I take 20 more years of decline of the railways?— BoltonPinata (@BoltonPinata) March 19, 2018
Back in January I wrote of my concern over the frequent use of short-formed trains for local commuter services. Many services that are scheduled to have 3 or 4 carriages...
Local rail commuters will be familiar with the frustration that comes when trains are delayed, or when one comes that is too full to board, leaving you standing on the platform not sure how long the journey is going to take.
You may not be aware of a scheme called “Delay Repay”. If your journey is delayed by 30 minutes or more, for whatever reason, you are due compensation.
These levels are set by the Department for Transport:
•Delayed for 30 to 59 minutes - Claim 50% compensation of your single ticket or 50% of the relevant delayed portion of your return ticket
• Delayed for 60 to 119 minutes - Claim 100% compensation of your single ticket or 100% of the cost of the relevant portion of your return ticket
•Delayed for 120+ minutes - Claim 100% compensation of the cost of your single ticket or 100% cost of your return ticket (i.e. both portions, not just one way)
To claim under this scheme from Northern, click here
To claim under this scheme from Transpennine Express, click here
Since this scheme began I have received complaints from a number of Northern customers. It can take a long time to receive the compensation; it can be difficult for people with System One travel cards to be appropriately compensated; and many people experience delays that aren’t quite 30 minutes long but are still very inconvenient.
As you can see below, I have raised these issues with the Secretary of State for Transport and I hope to receive official responses in the near future. Passengers deserve a better deal from our transport system and when standards aren’t met they should be properly compensated.
Local rail commuters will be familiar with the frustration that comes when trains are delayed, or when one comes that is too full to board, leaving you standing on the...
Last Friday I visited Turton School to find out more about the school’s participation in the 2017-18 Beacon School programme.
Turton is working with University College London's Holocaust Education Centre to deliver a deep and engaging education experience on the subject of the Holocaust. Scott Tither, a Beacon School Lead Teacher, has been given the opportunity to take part in extensive learning and later this year will visit Poland, developing a greater understanding of the Holocaust to inform his teaching.
It was encouraging to hear from both teachers and students about how they have gone beyond the headline figures of the Holocaust to look at the individual human stories of its victims. I met year 12 students who have felt so inspired by their studies that they are working to share what they have learned and teach younger students in their own time.
Talking to year 9, it's clear that complex moral and social issues are being debated in ways that not only help to explain the events of the 1930s and 40s but develop critical thinking to explore contemporary society. Their insights and thoughtful approach to the subject were very impressive.
While I was there I also took part in an interview for BBC School Report on the importance of Holocaust Education. We can't allow events like these to ever happen again and education is key.
I'd like to thank UCL and Turton School for inviting me to visit and see the project in action. I hope that other schools can learn from what is being done at Turton School follow their lead.
Last Friday I visited Turton School to find out more about the school’s participation in the 2017-18 Beacon School programme. Turton is working with University College London's Holocaust Education Centre...
Local pubs can be a fantastic asset. A safe, enjoyable space to socialise, and a way for people to access live music and other forms of entertainment right at the heart of the community.
It’s a real shame that we see so many pubs closing down. I’ve supported a number of measures in Parliament to reduce pressures on small pubs and breweries and help them stay competitive in a world of cheap supermarket booze.
The Railway Pub in Bromley Cross stands out to me as a missed opportunity. It doesn’t seem so long ago that the place was packed with local residents having a good time but it’s been sat vacant for more than two years now. As time goes by it’s becoming an eyesore and a target for vandalism. I want to see the pub re-opened.
I met with Bromley Cross Labour activists Steve Sutton and Deborah Whenlock about the issue and we wanted to find a common sense solution. When we looked into it we learned that Star Pubs are asking for annual rent of £37,250. Given the current economic circumstances this would be a big disincentive for people to take a chance on the pub.
I understand that Star Pubs want to have a profitable arrangement but if the building sits empty then they make no money, Bromley Cross has one less business and the community misses out on a good local pub.
We are asking Star Pubs to work with the community and offer a discounted rate on the rent of the Railway Pub for the first 2 to 3 years. As Steve recently said to the Bolton News “The swift reopening of these premises will clearly benefit both Star Pubs and our community. We hope Star Pubs consider the proposal mutually beneficial.”
If you agree with us and want to show your support, please sign our petition https://www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/takeaction/343/076/808/
Local pubs can be a fantastic asset. A safe, enjoyable space to socialise, and a way for people to access live music and other forms of entertainment right at the...