Posted 1st April 2020 | 2 Comments

1 April: news in brief

Lunchtime update

Labour publishes ‘shadow rail white paper’

THE Labour Party is calling for public ownership of the passenger railway to continue after the coronavirus crisis is over, under the title ‘GB Rail’. Its recommendations come in the form of a ‘white paper’, of the type which governments use to set out proposed legislation. Labour shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: ‘The suspension of so many rail franchises due to COVID-19 means that rail privatisation as we’ve known it is over. The question is what replaces it. Clearly the immediate focus has to be on maintaining a residual transport system to support our key workers but when we emerge from this crisis, we will need to think again about our the future of our public transport system. The railway hasn’t delivered for passengers or taxpayers for a long time. It’s too expensive and money leaks out; services have deteriorated; it’s out of control and unaccountable; and there is no structure to manage the whole system strategically. In short, the railway has lost sight of what it is for. I believe the railway must be run with the public interest as its clear and overriding primary objective. It must also support a vibrant economy and a thriving society while supporting climate stabilisation and a healthy local environment.’

Merseyrail axes evening trains

MERSEYRAIL is reducing its services again as more staff go on leave to self-isolate. From tomorrow (2 April) trains will only run between 07.00 and 19.00 Monday to Saturday, with 30 minute frequencies on all lines. Sunday trains will start an hour later, and again run until 19.00. Sunday frequencies will be hourly on most lines, with trains running every 45mins on the New Brighton and West Kirby lines.

RMT protests over freight terminal redundancies

THE RMT union says it has received a copy of proposals to make 15 posts redundant at the Coatbridge Freightliner terminal in Scotland. The company has invited volunteers to stand down, and the terminal’s working day is set to be reduced from 24 to 17 hours. In a letter to members, the RMT said it ‘believes that all key essential workers should be retained in the industry and the rail freight sector is key to delivering supplies during this national crisis.’ It adds that the proposals are therefore ‘wrong and totally unacceptable’. Freightliner has yet to respond to a Railnews request for a comment.

Grand Central cuts timetable as demand falls

OPEN access operator Grand Central has reduced its timetable, but some services are continuing to run. This is in contrast with Hull Trains, which has temporarily closed down as a result of travel restrictions. Grand Central managing director Richard McClean told Business Traveller magazine: ‘We remain committed to providing services for the revised timetable agreed with fellow train operators. The decision by Hull Trains to temporarily cease running services demonstrates the tough conditions for open access operators during COVID-19 restrictions. Social distancing and the advice to travel only unless necessary means the launch of our Blackpool to London Euston service is likely to be delayed.’

New virus precautions at Manchester Piccadilly

NEW vinyl stickers have been applied to the concourse floor at Manchester Piccadilly station to make the two-metre social distancing rules easier to follow. The stickers form a grid leading towards the ticket barriers and also mark out spaces for queueing passengers.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    No-one has a clue what the Railways will look like after the Corona Virus has been dealt with. We are talking at least 12 months before we are 'back to normal'. But what will normal be ? I can't see the Railways carrying the number of passengers they did in 2019. Many people who have been forced to work at home may find that they can still do it - and want to. Money will be short for all sorts of leisure activity and that includes Rail Journeys. Perhaps it will be noticed that infections spread most rapidly on mass transits systems and people will be very wary of them. We can't just rush in to replace the current system until we have a clear idea of Rail's Future first.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    Let me say initially, I'm a long standing floating voter with no affiliation to either
    the political Left or Right, and as such , not a fan of Nationalisation ( having lived with it for several decades). " Parliamentary accountability" doesn't work,
    being far too remote and long- winded.

    There are other possible sorts of public ownership.though. Municipalisation and
    Cooperatives / Mutuals seem more succesfull in practice. Localised , publicly run operations, on a scale where direct democratic accountability is feasible, could well run natural monopoly commuter services into the big conurbations .

    On the other hand, longer distance / intercity service appears to work best in a competitive, commercial model, where both intermodal and inter - operator competition can best give accountability.