Following letters to Arriva Rail North and Transport for Greater Manchester, Stockport Council leader Cllr Alex Ganotis met with Northern Rail to raise concerns about current services.
“I made it very clear to Northern Rail that rail services play a central role in Stockport – including how essential it is for people to access jobs and local services – and that future timetable changes should not result in overall reductions in the number or frequency of services to our stations. I also made clear that previous service patterns need to be restored – as a minimum – as quickly as possible, and I hope they are also making that clear to Network Rail and the Department for Transport (DfT).
“I have been critical of Northern Rail’s failure to communicate with local authorities and Transport for the North about the issues they were facing, particularly the impact of the new timetable and current disruptions. At the meeting, and in response, Northern Rail made a commitment to engage more proactively with the Council and to meet with us on a regular basis to keep us up to date on what they are doing to manage the present situation and how they are engaging with Network Rail and DfT about the challenges Northern Rail faces.
“I also expressed my concern about the cancellation of many Sunday services and asked them to continue to engage with the government to address this as quickly as possible so future disruptions due to problems with staffing are reduced.
“However, Network Rail and DfT also have a large share of responsibility for the situation passengers find themselves in. It’s important that infrastructure schemes, such as electrification on the Bolton line, are delivered in the timescales now promised by Network Rail and that no further delays in delivery are allowed. Network Rail also needs to be more realistic from the outset about the timescales for delivery of its infrastructure projects.
“Furthermore, DfT needs to step up and demand action to solve the chaos across the region’s rail network. Most importantly it needs to ensure that local services do not bear the brunt of disruption when infrastructure projects overrun; specifically, there needs to be more of a level playing field between the train operating companies which takes into account the needs of all passengers.
“I will also continue to press Northern Rail to make sure compensation arrangements are in place for all passengers for as long as timetable issues are causing disruption.”