Parking charges at Whitehaven increase on 8 August from £2 to £3 a day (£14 a week, £45 a month and £365 a year). They also increase at Barrow, Carnforth and Grange to £5 and Ulverston to £4.
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.
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).
The timetable from 21 May has virtually no changes to the coast line:
Mondays to Fridays the 1830 from Barrow is one minute later at stations from Whitehaven to Harrington and at Carlisle and on Saturdays the 1332 from Barrow arrives in Carlisle one minute later.
There are a few changes on the Furness line (beyond Barrow).
On Saturdays the 2135 Barrow-Lancaster is extended to Preston and the 2314 Lancaster-Barrow starts from Manchester Airport at 2200, both from 24 June-9 September.
There are a few changes on Sundays – the 0922 Barrow-Lancaster is extended to Manchester Airport from 25 June; there is an additional 1005 Barrow-Lancaster-Morecambe train until 10 September. In the opposite direction there is an additional 1017 Preston‑Barrow from 25 June and the 1117 Preston-Barrow runs at 1123 up to 18 June and then is replaced by the 1017; the 1604 Preston-Barrow which starts from Blackpool North becomes 1608 and starts at Preston.
Clearly these are slight improvements but no use for the coast line as we are still waiting for Sunday services between Barrow and Whitehaven.
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.
The new Rail room at Millom Discovery Centre at the station opens 1030 1530, Sundays to 1330 admission £4 and concessions).
Car park charges at Whitehaven and Barrow should have increased from £2 to £3 a day.
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 new Ratty museum is now open at Ravenglass every day trains run and is free. We are hoping to arrange a meeting there in October.
Network Rail’s 2017-18 railway upgrade plan includes ‘We are developing exciting plans for future projects, including working closely with the NuGen nuclear project, and other partners, to deliver a £400m investment on the Cumbrian coast.’
David Brown has been appointed as Managing Director of Arriva Rail North from September. David currently runs Transport for the North and before that Merseyrail.
The RMT union plan further strikes on 8-10 July. Saturday sees four round trips between Workington and Barrow with six or seven buses from Workington to Carlisle. Sunday has a minimal service with one round trip from Whitehaven to Carlisle, one part journey and one bus. On Monday there are two trains from Workington to Barrow plus five starting at Whitehaven and one at Sellafield and the same coming back with three buses between Carlisle and Whitehaven and a further five Carlisle-Workington ones. There are no evening trains and long waits for connections at Barrow.
There are alternative Stagecoach 300/301 buses between Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport and Carlisle roughly hourly daytime and two hourly evenings (0440 from Workington then 0525-2100 from Whitehaven and 0610-2300 from Carlisle) and two hourly on Sundays (0825 from Workington then 1005-1805 from Whitehaven, 0837 south from Wigton then 1010-2010 from Carlisle).
As far as our meeting at the Trackside café in Millom at 1400 on Saturday 8 July (which will now include Trudy Harrison MP) there are limited options:
Carlisle bus 0646 1004
Flimby bus 0806 1124
Workington 0826 1144
Whitehaven 0845 1203
Seascale 0907 1225
Millom 0933 1250
Millom 1520 1806
Seascale 1543 1835
Whitehaven 1608 1910
Workington 1625 1932
Flimby 1645 1952
Carlisle 1805 2112
and from Barrow:
at least giving plenty of opportunity to explore the rail room at the discovery centre (1030-1530) and have a walk or a meal at the café.