Tony Potts reported to the annual general meeting:
This last year has been one of the most eventful for some time insofar as our local train service is concerned. The introduction of the May 2018 timetable, although giving us a long-awaited Sunday service south of Whitehaven, caused so many problems that the subsequent cancellations, although not as many here as elsewhere, led some people wanting to go back the old timetable!
No sooner had we obtained a seven-day timetable when, the RMT Saturday strikes over the removal of guards meant an effective return to a six-day timetable. Fortunately, the matter has been resolved for now, pending more talks, but I am sure the numbers of passengers have fallen and will take some time to recover.
The use of locomotive-hauled trains hired from Direct Rail Services ended in December, as a result of more diesel units becoming available. The completion of the Manchester-Bolton
Preston electrification scheme in February meant the release of more units, so we shouldn’t be short of rolling stock.
More positive news came from the £3 million track renewal scheme between Silecroft and Bootle which will remove a temporary speed restriction there thus reducing delays. The installation of Ticket Vending Machines at most stations has had a mixed reception, especially when they are out of action.
In addition, at a Cumbria Better Connected meeting at Ulverston on 1st March new trains were promised for services from Barrow to Manchester this summer. We are likely to receive refurbished trains, as I understand that ARN has passed the half-way mark in the refurbishment programme.
Some of the above matters have caused BBC Radio Cumbria to interview me on them several times this year, with the publishers of in-Cumbria, a business magazine, asking for a brief article.
Meetings have been held with the Community Rail Team and Northern, mostly in Whitehaven but one at Preston.
As we are currently without a Secretary, now that David has moved to Fife, we are in urgent need of volunteers to come forward to take his place and also produce our newsletter. David did a tremendous amount of work for CRUG, so is sadly missed. I would like to register our thanks on behalf of everyone.
A group like ours cannot function without the assistance of those volunteers who give their time freely to assist with matters. We still need more, so please do not hesitate to come forward.