RMT strike action has been announced for Friday 1 and Monday 4 September. Similar timetables apply as for previous strikes with a service ending in the afternoon between Workington or Whitehaven and Barrow and buses north of Workington/Whitehaven. Some trains run from 0609 Workington-Barrow to 1530 Whitehaven-Barrow and 0600 Barrow-Whitehaven to 1450 Barrow-Workington. Buses run from 0523 Carlisle-Whitehaven to 1715 Carlisle-Workington and 0728 Whitehaven-Carlisle to 1641 Workington-Carlisle. Alternative Stagecoach buses 300/301 run an hourly service from Whitehaven to Carlisle from 0525 (evening two hourly to 2100) and return 0610 to 2300 (two hourly in evenings). There are few trains south of Barrow and they generally do not connect with the coast line. Trains announced for Carlisle-Newcastle are roughly two hourly with the last from Newcastle at 1524 and for Carlisle at 1728. There are 5 or 6 buses between Carlisle and Appleby.
Regulated fares are set to go up by the Retail Prices Index amount of 3.6% at the beginning of January, including most season tickets and many longer distance off-peak fares whilst changes to the rest of fares will be announced in December.
Parking charges at Whitehaven increased on 8 August from £2 to £3 a day (£14 a week, £45 a month and £365 a year). They also increased at Barrow, Carnforth and Grange to £5 and Ulverston to £4 a day.
The spring 2017 issue of Transport Focus’ National Rail Passenger Survey is out.
Generally there is a pleasing 3% improvement in satisfaction in the last year.
As far as Northern is concerned it shows 83% of passengers satisfied with their journey, up 2% on last year but lower than the regional train operators’ average of 87%. On satisfaction with stations the figure is up 3% at 84%, the regional average, and on trains again up 3% to 74%, below the 79% average. This is hardly surprising given the state of the fleet.
In detail there are significant improvements on the station figures for connections to other public transport up 7% at 74%, shelter facilities up 5% at 77% and provision of information about train times and platforms is up 4% at 89% – the last two reflecting the work done on stations and figures that we would expect to improve again significantly in the next couple of years as improvement plans come to fruition.
For trains satisfaction for scheduled speed of journey is up 7% at 86% (regional average 90%), cleanliness of the outside of trains up 4% at 67% – something we have had less cause to complain about locally recently – and punctuality 4% at 83%. The only significant fall was for personal security on board down 3% at 75% and common to most operators, presumably as a result of terrorist attacks.
Northern’s figures remain lower than the regional average on most counts, particularly on trains rather than stations which must reflect the state of the fleet at present. Northern scores higher on car parking and shop facilities on stations. On trains they are well below the average on frequency, upkeep, information during the journey, seat comfort and particularly dealing with delays which is the main concern across the whole network.
It is perhaps dealing with delays that concern us most at present. When trains break down it seems to paralyse the line for hours seemingly without the possibility of single line working (where there are two lines) and great difficulty in arranging buses. At least information at unstaffed stations is improving.
There are figures for the four Northern regions (in our case West) but they don’t differ a lot.
As usual commuters are less happy than business passengers and leisure travellers most forgiving.
Peter Rooke from the Railway Museum in St Bees will be telling the story of the railways in Whitehaven on Saturday 19 August at 2pm in the Beacon museum – free entry.
Haltwhistle station is part of Heritage open days on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 September 1000-1630 including the old booking hall, signal box and walks and Virgin East Coast’s Azuma roadshow.
Lakes line electrification has been cancelled by the government in favour of bimode (electric and diesel) trains (though the government seem likely to push ahead with another Crossrail in London).
Advance fares From the end of May Northern promised more advance tickets with online availability of them up to 15 minutes before a train’s departure but increased some fares by up to 50p on the Lakes line and probably on the Settle and Carlisle though not on the Coast or Furness lines.
Virgin, TransPennine Express and Caledonian Sleeper now sell advance tickets up to an hour before the train’s departure.
The planned improved timetable for December 2017 has now been put back to at least May 2018 because of delays in electrification in south west England and subsequent transfer of trains. This will include Sunday services between Whitehaven and Barrow, some earlier and later trains and generally fill almost all the gaps in the current timetable. The previous date for the withdrawal of loco hauled trains and Pacer units of December 2019 still stands, when we should be served by a fleet of four car refurbished class 156 diesel multiple units.
West Coast Railways have an excursion from Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme to Betws-y-Coed on 20 September together with other departures from Carnforth. There is a Settle and Carlisle excursion from Carlisle to York on 25 November.
The new Rail room at Millom Discovery Centre at the station opens 1030 1530, Sundays to 1330 admission £4 and concessions).
Scenic rail journeys is a new website from the Association of Community Rail Partnerships which features all the Cumbrian lines together with preserved railways in the area.
The All the stations guys travelled up the coast line on 28 July – see them on YouTube (episode 46, day 83 – Lancaster to Newcastle).
The new Ratty museum is now open at Ravenglass every day trains run and is free. We have a meeting there in October.