MPs and rail operators in talks on train overcrowding

The Bolton News: Politicians talking about Bolton's overcrowded trains Politicians talking about Bolton's overcrowded trains

BOLTON’S train overcrowding has been the subject of a meeting between MPs Julie Hilling and Yasmin Qureshi and railway operators.

Ms Hilling, who represents Bolton West, and Ms Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, spent more than two hours talking with representatives from Network Rail, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Northern Rail and First Transpennine Express (FTP) to find out what they are doing about the problem.

Rail operators told them there were no spare diesel stock carriages anywhere in the country — and no more are expected to be commissioned, as lines across England are being electrified.

Instead, the best chance of Bolton services receiving extra carriages is when the Manchester to Liverpool and Wigan to Liverpool lines are electrified in December this year — freeing up spare diesel units.

However, there is currently no policy in place for released carriages to stay in the region, and Bolton MPs will need to petition the Secretary of State for Transport on March 5 to make sure North West units stay with northern train lines.

The meeting also heard that Cllr David Chadwick and members of Bolton Council are setting up a task force dedicated to bring the Scottish trains back through Bolton and also look at the possibility of bringing Virgin pendolino train services from the town to London.

Speaking after the meeting held at her Westhoughton office, Ms Hilling said: “We need to make sure diesel carriages that are being released in the North West stay within the northern franchise.

“None of the train operators are complacent about this, and are doing everything they can.”

Ms Qureshi added: “Electrification is for the good of everyone in the end — they are not just doing it to disrupt people and annoy them, but to give people a better service and make it better for the future.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said the meeting was a productive discussion on how the service can be maintained during the work, which is taking place as part of the £460m investment into rail in the north west.

He added: “In the Bolton area, there will be a more frequent train service, with more seats and quicker journey times to many destinations.

“To deliver improvements of this scale, it is inevitable there will be some level of disruption as the work is carried out but everything will be done to keep this to a minimum.”

Comments (2)

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7:11pm Wed 19 Feb 14

BWFC71 says...

This is what I received in my email, today, iwth regards to the overcrowding on the Bolton line. It comes straight from the DfT! Basically no matter what is going to said in private they are passing the blame back onto Northern Rail and TfGM!!! This is how the Government thinks about human life!!!

Thank you for your email of 27 January to Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, regarding Bolton train services; I have been asked to respond.

When the Northern franchise was let in 2004 there was not expected to be any growth in passenger demand. Since the start of the franchise Northern has seen passenger numbers increase by around 40% across the franchise. Although the popularity of the railway is to be welcomed, it has led to some trains being crowded, particularly at peak times. Additional carriages were provided to Northern in 2008 and 2011 because of this growth.

Within their franchise agreement, Northern is required to use all reasonable endeavours to provide a minimum number of places on around 250 peak services each week day. The delivery of this capacity is monitored by Northern and discussed regularly with the DfT and Transport for Greater Manchester as well as other stakeholders.

The train service between Manchester and Bolton is sponsored and specified by Transport for Greater Manchester. You may wish to make your concerns known to them if you have not done so already.

It is important to remember that safety is the first priority of rail operations and a recent European Union report found that the UK has the safest rail network of all EU members – see http://ec.europa.eu/
commission_2010-2014
/kallas/headlines/ne
ws/2013/01/doc/swd(2
013)-10-part3.pdf for details.

With regard to the safety implications of overcrowding, I should explain that the body that monitors and enforces compliance with health and safety legislation on Britain’s rail network is the Office of Rail Regulation (‘ORR’).

It is for each train operating company to use its train fleet to best match the train capacity to the passenger demand expected on individual services. Operators are required to use all reasonable endeavours to minimise overcrowding.

ORR has advised me that there is no legal limit on the number of passengers that can travel on a train. This is because trains differ from other modes of transport, such as buses and aeroplanes, where passenger numbers can affect stability. Trains are designed to operate safely and effectively even when they are loaded to maximum capacity.

The structural design of rail vehicles takes account of the maximum load including crowded conditions. In addition, the interior design contain features that minimise passenger injury in the event of an accident

It is true that in the event of a serious accident – a rare event in itself – on a heavily loaded train, it is an inescapable fact that the more passengers there are on the train, the greater the number of passengers at risk. However, research into a number of train accidents has shown that crowding itself did not contribute to the severity of the incident or to any injuries incurred.

You may wish to look at the policy statement issued by ORR on its website at
http://www.rail-reg.
gov.uk/upload/pdf/tr
ain_crowding_positio
n_statement.pdf

As you may be aware, the Department for Transport has also announced additional investment in the railways of Northern England over the next few years. This includes electrification between Liverpool and Manchester, in Lancashire and in due course, between Manchester and York via Huddersfield. The works to deliver electrification between Manchester, Newton-le-Willows and Liverpool are under way. As well as offering longer trains and faster journeys on these routes, electrification means that diesel trains currently used between Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool will become available to provide additional capacity for passengers across the railways of Northern England.

The second section of the Liverpool to Manchester line – between Liverpool and Newton-le-Willows – will be available for use by electric trains from December 2014. Once electric trains are able to operate on the Liverpool to Manchester line, it will be possible for the diesel trains used on local services along the route to transfer to provide additional capacity for passengers on other routes. It will be for the rail industry to develop plans for the redeployment of these diesel trains after 2014.

If Northern were to provide additional diesel trains for services between Bolton and Manchester prior to December 2014, they would have to come from within the Northern fleet or from a Rolling Stock Company. The Northern Franchise Agreement requires the operator to use its entire fleet of trains (allowing for normal maintenance) at peak times. It is for Northern to determine, based on the passenger demand on individual services, whether any changes can be made to reallocate carriages between the routes that they operate.

As I said, Transport for Greater Manchester sponsor and specify local services within Greater Manchester. If diesel rolling stock can be made available prior to December 2014, it would be for them to work with Northern on how best carriages might be redeployed from other local train services. It would be for Transport for Greater Manchester and the operators to develop the business case and any necessary funding for the provision of additional carriages for train services that call at Bolton.

Kind regards

Alistair Hobbs
Correspondence Manager
Rail Commercial
This is what I received in my email, today, iwth regards to the overcrowding on the Bolton line. It comes straight from the DfT! Basically no matter what is going to said in private they are passing the blame back onto Northern Rail and TfGM!!! This is how the Government thinks about human life!!! Thank you for your email of 27 January to Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, regarding Bolton train services; I have been asked to respond. When the Northern franchise was let in 2004 there was not expected to be any growth in passenger demand. Since the start of the franchise Northern has seen passenger numbers increase by around 40% across the franchise. Although the popularity of the railway is to be welcomed, it has led to some trains being crowded, particularly at peak times. Additional carriages were provided to Northern in 2008 and 2011 because of this growth. Within their franchise agreement, Northern is required to use all reasonable endeavours to provide a minimum number of places on around 250 peak services each week day. The delivery of this capacity is monitored by Northern and discussed regularly with the DfT and Transport for Greater Manchester as well as other stakeholders. The train service between Manchester and Bolton is sponsored and specified by Transport for Greater Manchester. You may wish to make your concerns known to them if you have not done so already. It is important to remember that safety is the first priority of rail operations and a recent European Union report found that the UK has the safest rail network of all EU members – see http://ec.europa.eu/ commission_2010-2014 /kallas/headlines/ne ws/2013/01/doc/swd(2 013)-10-part3.pdf for details. With regard to the safety implications of overcrowding, I should explain that the body that monitors and enforces compliance with health and safety legislation on Britain’s rail network is the Office of Rail Regulation (‘ORR’). It is for each train operating company to use its train fleet to best match the train capacity to the passenger demand expected on individual services. Operators are required to use all reasonable endeavours to minimise overcrowding. ORR has advised me that there is no legal limit on the number of passengers that can travel on a train. This is because trains differ from other modes of transport, such as buses and aeroplanes, where passenger numbers can affect stability. Trains are designed to operate safely and effectively even when they are loaded to maximum capacity. The structural design of rail vehicles takes account of the maximum load including crowded conditions. In addition, the interior design contain features that minimise passenger injury in the event of an accident It is true that in the event of a serious accident – a rare event in itself – on a heavily loaded train, it is an inescapable fact that the more passengers there are on the train, the greater the number of passengers at risk. However, research into a number of train accidents has shown that crowding itself did not contribute to the severity of the incident or to any injuries incurred. You may wish to look at the policy statement issued by ORR on its website at http://www.rail-reg. gov.uk/upload/pdf/tr ain_crowding_positio n_statement.pdf As you may be aware, the Department for Transport has also announced additional investment in the railways of Northern England over the next few years. This includes electrification between Liverpool and Manchester, in Lancashire and in due course, between Manchester and York via Huddersfield. The works to deliver electrification between Manchester, Newton-le-Willows and Liverpool are under way. As well as offering longer trains and faster journeys on these routes, electrification means that diesel trains currently used between Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool will become available to provide additional capacity for passengers across the railways of Northern England. The second section of the Liverpool to Manchester line – between Liverpool and Newton-le-Willows – will be available for use by electric trains from December 2014. Once electric trains are able to operate on the Liverpool to Manchester line, it will be possible for the diesel trains used on local services along the route to transfer to provide additional capacity for passengers on other routes. It will be for the rail industry to develop plans for the redeployment of these diesel trains after 2014. If Northern were to provide additional diesel trains for services between Bolton and Manchester prior to December 2014, they would have to come from within the Northern fleet or from a Rolling Stock Company. The Northern Franchise Agreement requires the operator to use its entire fleet of trains (allowing for normal maintenance) at peak times. It is for Northern to determine, based on the passenger demand on individual services, whether any changes can be made to reallocate carriages between the routes that they operate. As I said, Transport for Greater Manchester sponsor and specify local services within Greater Manchester. If diesel rolling stock can be made available prior to December 2014, it would be for them to work with Northern on how best carriages might be redeployed from other local train services. It would be for Transport for Greater Manchester and the operators to develop the business case and any necessary funding for the provision of additional carriages for train services that call at Bolton. Kind regards Alistair Hobbs Correspondence Manager Rail Commercial BWFC71
  • Score: 0

12:14pm Fri 21 Feb 14

Atherton Lad says...

I notice that the comment about Julie Hilling's office has been removed. In my opinion, its not her office to blame but the lack of leadership from their boss, Ms Hilling!
I notice that the comment about Julie Hilling's office has been removed. In my opinion, its not her office to blame but the lack of leadership from their boss, Ms Hilling! Atherton Lad
  • Score: -1

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