REPORTER Dale Haslam continues his regular blog about his daily train commute in and out of Bolton
TRAIN travel around my neck of the woods is not much fun at the moment.
When the working day nears its end, I know that if I do not make the 5.18pm train home, I have to wait until 6.23pm for the next one, and then there is only a rail replacement coach which seems to take forever.
So it was probably not surprising that rail bosses were reluctant to compound passengers’ misery by announcing a shake-up of the fare system halfway through six weeks of annoying (albeit necessary) engineering works.
With just three weeks to go before the fare changes take effect, Northern Rail was planning to wait another week before telling people but The Bolton News thought it was fairer to tell people now.
As reported on this page, Northern is scrapping its cheap evening ticket and banning off-peak ticket holders from travelling in the evening rush hour — a move critics claim will hit some of the poorest passengers.
Students, parents will childcare needs, and people working outside of normal hours will be out of pocket or be left watching the clock on the platform until their ticket is valid again.
Northern blames the government. The government says Northern should not be losing so much cash, but, ultimately, it is the customer who suffers.
In my view, the Department of Transport is naive in thinking Northern’s vast network — the most rural network in England – is going to make much money, and punishing poor passengers is simply not fair.
But, it could be argued, equally as bad is the fact that Northern did not consult passengers directly about these changes.
It asked ‘local stakeholders” Transport for Greater Manchester and Passenger Focus for their views, but did not speak to passengers at stations or consult via its own website, for example.
Bringing in any change like this is never going to be easy for those in charge, but it just seems like one blow after the other for train users at the moment.