TRANSPORT: Rail service not on track

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I want to draw attention to the glaring inequality in the government’s policies with regard to investment in rail infrastructure and service in the north east compared to other parts of the UK.

The key issues are the annual increase in fares, the move to driver-only operated trains, the lack of full electrification and the reduction in subsidies.

At the same time, we have seen the Crossrail project in London be given a blank cheque and other corporate ventures, such as High Speed 2, be treated in the same manner.

The gap in spending on transport infrastructure is 500 times per person in London than in the north east.

What is the effect of this? The development of new lines, such as Ashington-Blyth, to link residents to the rest of the rail network is halted. The absence of full electrification will see an increasing number of delays, cancellations and breakdowns, just as the need for regular maintenance upgrades has also been affected.

In our opinion, there is an increased risk to passengers’ safety due to the introduction of Driver-Only Operated (DOO) trains.

Northern is reported to have told staff, including guards whose jobs are under threat, that they are the first line of defence against terrorism. With DOO, in an emergency there will be no staff on or off platforms to help. We suggest readers get behind the unions and their struggle to save jobs.

We see long-standing problems of poor passenger facilities, such as toilets, on trains and in stations.

Affecting all passengers is the annual hike in rail fares, granted by the government under its franchise formula.

The minister for transport, has just told our councils that they may have to borrow the vital money necessary for new Metro carriages under a PFI agreement. That means more cuts in other services.

Whatever way you look at it, we have a rail service that is not on track for the passengers who rely upon it.

Please sign our petition to oppose public financing investment for our new Metro trains

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/government-funding-for-tyne-and-wear-metro

The next transport forum is at Whitely Bay Library, on October 5, from 6pm to 8pm.

Vicki Gilbert

Chairman Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group