MPs and rail operators in talks on train overcrowding
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.”