Your say on rail service changes

    May 2018 Timetable Consultation Response

    Northern first published its proposed timetables for the major service changes a year in advance of the revised implementation date of  May 2018 and immediately commenced what in effect was a closed industry consultation although it was agreed (at our insistence) that OPSTA and the Southport Rail Transport Forum should engage with the travelling public and compile a response to be submitted to Northern and transport authorities for consideration.

    We conducted a full online passenger survey and augmented this with additional travel pattern data and comment from further travel census checks conducted on platform and trains for various morning services.
     
    We had a strong response and the survey was closed, however, we still need and collect passenger opinions and travel requirements which should be sent to opstasurveys@gmail.com.

    The recommendations and requests stated in the 4 page submission were based on our examination of the timetables, all of the previously shared research and analysis, and the feedback from over 250 rail users on the proposed services taken from the survey in June 2017.  Moreover, it must be read in the context that a full direct service was believed to be technically feasible using Class 769 trains and in anticipation of an approved investment in the extra leasing costs needed to bring these into service on this route by October 2018 – thus minimising the break in direct services.

    Read the full online survey report which was appended to the consultation response and also informed the subsequent business case  made for restoration of a full service to Manchester south.

    Further to that we obtained a number of comments from businesses in Southport who believe that these changes if they become permanent will have a severe detrimental effect on the Southport economy, which is already facing serious challenges. 

    Recommendations in Consultation Response

    Northern considered our paper and, in what turned out to be the last full meeting of the Manchester Services Working Group, in August 2017 offered some limited additional concessions; on top of the two commuter services to Piccadilly, there will be an additional early morning service from Southport to Victoria and all services will call at Meols Cop. These are reflected in the announced timetables.

    We pressed the case that even as an interim situation (and we now know the hiatus will be much longer) this did not go far enough and a commitment was made by Northern to re-consider the scope for providing a third evening peak return service from Piccadilly, routing of all Wigan services to Wallgate and Sunday services to the south side. We still await a response.