Transport User Voice – July 2022 – Around Great Britain
29 June 2022
Scotland, Wales, the West Midlands and London
Due to the ongoing impact of a significant number of drivers declining to make themselves available for overtime or rest day working, a temporary timetable is still in place.
Transport Focus supported the introduction of the temporary timetable as a regrettable but necessary measure to provide a consistent, reliable service. However, we’ve asked ScotRail to check the timetable and consider reviewing it with a view to providing an increased level of service on routes in the evening/night, within means.
We are pleased to note that as a result, ScotRail confirmed that additional services will be provided on routes to include those services between Edinburgh and Fife, East of Scotland and on the Strathclyde network.
Recently, we also attended the FoFNL AGM (Friends of the Far North Line annual general meeting) & Conference. Attendees heard from speakers including Kate Forbes MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy and Matt Powell, Head of Route Sponsorship, Network Rail.
The Cabinet Secretary outlined the importance of all rail lines serving the Highlands and the continued investment in the routes, including Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan.
This sets out plans to electrify more of the rail network and move away from diesel to zero-emission trains on routes that aren’t viable or suitable to electrify.
Through our membership of the Commonwealth Games Steering Group, Transport Focus continues to work with all parties to plan for a public transport-led games which start next month.
The completion of Perry Barr station on time and within budget means the games will benefit from outstanding facilities, which we visited on opening.
West Midlands Trains have launched its ‘Your Stations, Your Fund’ scheme for 2022/23, which will invest over £800,000 in community-based projects in the region. As well as working with our regional partners on shortlisting, we’ll continue to work on all projects which deliver a renewed, regional strategy for community rail.
Finally, the Transport Focus-chaired West Midlands Bus Alliance is working to revolutionise bus ticketing in the region. The aim is to reduce 3,000 bus ticketing options down to just a half-dozen ticket types. This should help encourage new users to give bus a go.
Transport for London’s funding settlement deadline came and went – then was extended again! The Mayor, Sadiq Khan and the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps will be sitting down again in the hopes of meeting an agreement.
London TravelWatch CEO, Emma Gibson, made a plea to both sides to come together in the interests of passengers caught in the middle. She said that London TravelWatch was particularly concerned about the threats of cuts to buses which would affect some of the least well-off people in the capital who relied on them.
As well as problems for TfL, national rail strikes have also caused significant disruption. Throughout the week, London TravelWatch engaged with the rail companies operating across the capital, asking that they provide as much communication as possible for passengers. Especially for less frequent users of the railway travelling to places like Glastonbury and other festivals over the weekend.
Fishguard Harbour – passenger communications
This month we conducted a joint visit with Transport for Wales to Fishguard Harbour. We talked to Stena staff about how passenger communications can be improved. We know that there have been some issues in recent months for passengers making connections.
We heard about some of the challenges around disruption and timetabling (particularly short connection times) and the impact on passengers.
We had a look around the facilities to see what is available for passengers and also looked at information and signage. We noticed an out-of-date rail improvement works poster on the platform, which we requested to be replaced.
We also had a tour around the immediate area to see wider services and facilities that passengers may be able to access. We’ll be working closely with Transport for Wales and Stena to make further improvements for passengers based on our findings.
Senedd Committee evidence
Transport Focus Wales gave evidence to the Senedd Committee for Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure for their inquiry into bus and rail transport in Wales. Earlier we assisted them in providing information to user groups and stakeholders and were now called to give formal evidence.
Senior manager Wales David Beer took part in the middle of three evidence sessions, alongside Sustrans and Campaign for Better Transport. He responded to the questions with evidence from our varied research including rail and bus reform and barriers to travel.
The session was broadcast live on Senedd TV. The recording is available on the Senedd website.
Also, read about our Buses in Wales webinar here.
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