‘Keep improvements on track’: rail passengers welcome investment in Transpennine route

23 July 2020

“Keep things simple, look after your regular customers and please communicate as much as you possibly can.”
 – Leeds passenger

Passengers want assurances that the Transpennine Route Upgrade work announced today will be planned and delivered to minimise disruption to their lives.

Independent watchdog Transport Focus welcomed the announcement of £600 million of rail improvements as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade between Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester.

The watchdog has published new passenger research and recommended a five-point plan for how the railway can build passengers’ trust during the upgrade. Commissioned by Network Rail, the research looks into passengers’ views on the project, including the impact of disruption, communication needs and compensation.

Passengers using the route told Transport Focus that they see the upgrade as essential to deliver improvements to punctuality, reliability, and capacity for the railway in the north.

David Sidebottom, director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“The promised investment in the Transpennine rail route is an essential part of the jigsaw if passengers travelling across the north are to see more punctual and reliable trains in future.

“How this work is managed over the coming years will be key to passengers’ trust in the rail industry. Passengers will need to be told what it means for them and their journey, be kept informed about the work and once work starts they should be kept on trains rather than rail replacement buses wherever possible.”

Transport Focus’s five-point plan for how the railway can build passengers’ trust during the upgrade recommends:

  1. the railway must deliver on its promises and ensure passengers see improvements to capacity and reliability
  2. demonstrate to passengers that the railway is planning and delivering the work to minimise the impact on passengers
  3. keep passengers on trains – this is what they are paying for. Where this is not possible, provide high quality rail replacement services and communicate this to give passengers confidence
  4. prioritise accurate and timely information about the specific impact of the works on passengers’ journeys, and their options, so they can plan their lives
  5. publicise compensation for commuters up front to recognise the disruption and ensure passengers can receive regular, open and honest reports on the upgrade progress.

Transport Focus will continue to use the research in its work with Network Rail and train companies to ensure passengers’ views are heard.

What passengers say about the Transpennine Route Upgrade:

“The changes will need to be done and it will make a big difference but be realistic with the timeframe and how it will disrupt passengers.” Huddersfield passenger

“I want to believe it can happen. How will you and your company convince me? What is your communication plan? How will you build trust?” Leeds passenger

“I’d need about six months’ notice of any alternatives just to plan things and get things in order.” Vulnerable passenger

“It’s a good long-term plan but short term and during [the work] I think you should discount passenger fares.” Huddersfield passenger

Notes to editors

Download report.

For further information please contact Kieran Watkins, senior communications officer

Tel: 07850 076 493 or email: kieran.watkins@transportfocus.org.uk

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