Delayed upgrades, cancelled routes, outdated stock—the problems with the northern rail network are extreme. But for those who have been paying attention, the latest crisis comes as no surpriseby Ben Gartside / June 5, 2018 / Leave a comment
Last night, the Manchester Evening News, Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post, Lancashire Post and Sheffield Star all went to print with similar headlines—many opting for the same exact phrase, “off the rails.” The shared sentiment of the Northern print media is hardly an embellishment of the regional mood. The persistent underfunding of transport projects in the north is a continued problem over numerous governments that has only been exacerbated by the latest inception.
In May, over 22 per cent of Northern trains were either late or cancelled, with the cancellation rate being as high as 28.5 per cent on the Lancashire & Cumbria Inter-Urban lines.
According to the Lancashire Post, 2000 services have been scrapped already, and there has been a further announcement that 165 services will be scrapped daily until the end of July, for which commuters will be paying a full rail price to travel on a replacement bus service.
Since May 1, the Northern-Lancashire & Cumbria Inter-Urban lines have managed only 3 days when more than 80 per cent of service have been on time. In the same time period, there have been 11 days when less than half of services managed to be on time.
Northern has postponed the Lakes Line for two weeks from Monday. The line runs to and from Preston, Lancaster, Oxenholme and Windermere. All rail services will be cancelled.
This is no small issue: according to Centre for Towns research, there has been a passenger increase of 561,008 passengers on those four stops over the previous 5 years.
A series of delays
To understand the grievances around Northern and Government transport policy, you must first contextualise the failures. As part of the ‘Northern Hub’ project, multiple electrifications were planned, alongside station upgrades.
Of these, only Manchester Airport’s fourth platform project was on time. Manchester Victoria station upgrades were six months late. Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Oxford Road station upgrades will both be at least a year late.
Manchester-Liverpool and Wigan upgrades were five months late, the Ordsall Chord was one year late, Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge Junction electrification was seventeen months late and Preston to Blackpool electrification was two years late.
Manchester-Sheffield track improvements are at least a…