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Northern rail could be nationalised


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I hate the expression, "Too little, too late". If I were a politician offering to find funding for a project and was told it was "Too little, too late", I would say there is no point spending money on it then and I would spend the money somewhere else. After all, there is never a shortage of projects requiring taxpayers' money.

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Northern passenger numbers are down due to the huge number of strike days last year. Add to that the service disruption and it was a torrid year. 

Northern have been shafted by the DfT over staffing, timetabling and then by Network Rail which seemed (no disrespect to hard working engineers and staff) in almost total meltdown across the organisation. 

 

TPE have escaped lightly despite shocking performance. The MD has done well to get his £39,000 bonus. 

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Every Sunday Northern have been cancelling whole services, resulting in a 6 day railway for many  in the North West. Here are this Sunday’s planned cancellations (so far).

 

 

This Sunday, there are planned cancellations on a small number of routes in the North West. These cancellations will affect:  

Manchester Victoria – Clitheroe: A rail replacement service will be running between Victoria and Clitheroe serving all stations.

Wigan - Stalybridge:  Rail replacement buses will be in place between Wigan and Bolton and between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge. 

Lancaster – Morecambe: Rail replacement service will be in place between Lancaster and Morecambe

Southport - Rochdale: Rail replacement buses will operate between Manchester Victoria and Todmorden. Metrolink will accept Northern tickets for travel between Rochdale and Zone One.

We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause our customers. Please check immediately before you travel.

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54 minutes ago, ColinK said:

Every Sunday Northern have been cancelling whole services, resulting in a 6 day railway for many  in the North West. Here are this Sunday’s planned cancellations (so far).

 

 

This Sunday, there are planned cancellations on a small number of routes in the North West. These cancellations will affect:  

Manchester Victoria – Clitheroe: A rail replacement service will be running between Victoria and Clitheroe serving all stations.

Wigan - Stalybridge:  Rail replacement buses will be in place between Wigan and Bolton and between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge. 

Lancaster – Morecambe: Rail replacement service will be in place between Lancaster and Morecambe

Southport - Rochdale: Rail replacement buses will operate between Manchester Victoria and Todmorden. Metrolink will accept Northern tickets for travel between Rochdale and Zone One.

We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause our customers. Please check immediately before you travel.

 

This will continue to happen until the DfT face up to Sunday working with all the TOCs.  Putting it simply Sunday is regarded as just another day in the retail world and I am told that some shops are busier on that day than some other days.   DfT need to drag itself into the 21st Century and arrange staffing accordingly - ie have enough staff to work each of the seven days  rather than expect Sundays to be overtime / extra pay.   

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16 hours ago, Railpassion said:

Northern passenger numbers are down due to the huge number of strike days last year. Add to that the service disruption and it was a torrid year. 

Northern have been shafted by the DfT over staffing, timetabling and then by Network Rail which seemed (no disrespect to hard working engineers and staff) in almost total meltdown across the organisation. 

 

TPE have escaped lightly despite shocking performance. The MD has done well to get his £39,000 bonus. 

A lot of the problems were the DaFT agreeing upgrades in the franchising process with the franchisee BEFORE talking to Network Rail about whether they were viable, hardly network Rails fault if the DaFT are making promises Network Rail are unaware of and have no chance of providing!

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6 hours ago, Covkid said:

 

This will continue to happen until the DfT face up to Sunday working with all the TOCs.  Putting it simply Sunday is regarded as just another day in the retail world and I am told that some shops are busier on that day than some other days.   DfT need to drag itself into the 21st Century and arrange staffing accordingly - ie have enough staff to work each of the seven days  rather than expect Sundays to be overtime / extra pay.   

A lot of rail staff are not contracted to work sundays so they rely on volunteers, I am rostered 2 Sundays in 4 but if I dont want to work them I can make myself unavailable and if it cant be covered the trains dont run its a s simple as that.

 

If the TOC or DaFT want to bring Sundays into the working week then they either have to negotiate or impose that change, if they negotiate it will cost, abd if they try to impose then all goodwill will be lost so it would 'cost' a lot more.

 

As Sundays are currently classed as overtime bringing them into the working week would either lead to a longer working week (no chance) or having a different day off during the week, this would mean an increase in staff numbers (between 25 and 33%) so that is a massive increase in costs including wages, pension (overtime , as Sundays currently are is not pensionable, bring them into the normal working week and they are), training, uniform, equipment, Management (more staff=more Managers) etc, so no TOC will is willing to take on that financial hit.

 

For information I work all my booked Sundays plus plenty of additional ones, I am working an additional one this Sunday, a bloomin night turn at that into a rest day Monday.

Edited by royaloak
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26 minutes ago, royaloak said:

 

If the TOC or DaFT want to bring Sundays into the working week then they either have to negotiate or impose that change, if they negotiate it will cost, abd if they try to impose then all goodwill will be lost so it would 'cost' a lot more.

 

 

Added to which, as far as the Northern TOC is concerned, is the inconvenient fact that due to the history of how the franchise map in the north has been redrawn several times since privatisation, there (still as far I’m aware) isn’t a unified set of terms and conditions covering its employees.

 

A fact, of course, that Arriva should have been well aware of when it put together its bid for the Northern franchise.

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7 minutes ago, 4630 said:

 

Added to which, as far as the Northern TOC is concerned, is the inconvenient fact that due to the history of how the franchise map in the north has been redrawn several times since privatisation, there (still as far I’m aware) isn’t a unified set of terms and conditions covering its employees.

 

A fact, of course, that Arriva should have been well aware of when it put together its bid for the Northern franchise.

Ah the good old War of the Roses still lives, different conditions on the East and West of the franchise.

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I drive buses and coaches (sometimes in place of trains), Sundays are just a normal day to work with no extra pay.

 

There is a benefit though - midweek days off when I’ve got the house to myself = modelling time.

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Wasn't the Northern franchise set up as a non growth one and that probably has been a curse on I ever since plus a bad staff relations inviorment its been doomed ever since its inception.I do wonder if its nationalised will the RMT suddenly be cooperative with  management ?

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6 hours ago, royaloak said:

Ah the good old War of the Roses still lives, different conditions on the East and West of the franchise.

 

And probably the same for any franchise that has seen mergers/breakups/amalgamations of previous franchises.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, ColinK said:

I drive buses and coaches (sometimes in place of trains), Sundays are just a normal day to work with no extra pay.

 

There is a benefit though - midweek days off when I’ve got the house to myself = modelling time.

 

The world is no longer a 5 day week for many.

It's just that some sectors can't appreciate that.

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2 hours ago, ColinK said:

I drive buses and coaches (sometimes in place of trains), Sundays are just a normal day to work with no extra pay.

 

There is a benefit though - midweek days off when I’ve got the house to myself = modelling time.

 

3 minutes ago, newbryford said:

 

The world is no longer a 5 day week for many.

It's just that some sectors can't appreciate that.

 

Totally understand. My roster is different however and all my turns are in a 14 week roster cycle.  If I want a Sunday off, I need to take leave  But every  hour I work is paid at normal rate - no enhancements.  It is high time the DfT did the same for all traincrew, or publish achievable timetables. 

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56 minutes ago, lmsforever said:

Wasn't the Northern franchise set up as a non growth one and that probably has been a curse on I ever since plus a bad staff relations inviorment its been doomed ever since its inception.I do wonder if its nationalised will the RMT suddenly be cooperative with  management ?

 

Unlikely on three counts.

 

Firstly even if Northern was nationalised - it would still end up as a ‘shadow franchise’ (I.e. not added to LNER or SE trains to make) British Rail. As such, from the unions perspective it won’t make any difference.

 

Secondly stuff like the trains will still be leased or outsourced rather than being bought in house under one company. The RMTs stayed aim is nationalisation of ALL aspects of rail operation with everything under the control of a single state entity.

 

Thirdly, and most importantly, the RMT thrives on being the most awkward, militant and downright  intransigent union out there. Until we get a true socialist government in power committed to the elimination of capitalism and empowering the working classes (as per true Marx - Lenin doctrine) then they will continue to oppose pretty much everything a Government does on point of principle.

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4 hours ago, newbryford said:

 

The world is no longer a 5 day week for many.

It's just that some sectors can't appreciate that.

They can appreciate that, its just with short 5 or 7 year franchises it isnt worth the aggro of sitting down and sorting out the Sundays, of course Saturday has long been a normal day for us as has starting and working any of the 24 hours in a day unlike certain sectors who are still Monday to Friday day time only.

 

With just over 8 weeks to go isnt it time for the annual bitchfest to start about us having 2 days off at Christmas while most people get a week or more off?

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4 hours ago, Covkid said:

 

 

Totally understand. My roster is different however and all my turns are in a 14 week roster cycle.  If I want a Sunday off, I need to take leave  But every  hour I work is paid at normal rate - no enhancements.  It is high time the DfT did the same for all traincrew, or publish achievable timetables. 

Yeah I reckon I could bust my annualised hours (roughly 1825) in about 9 months and then have 3 months off, where do I sign up?

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On 17/10/2019 at 14:58, royaloak said:

As the original franchise was let on a no growth basis but ridership actually increased 20% (or something like that) they were basically stuffed from the start, and although they managed to get some extra trains from GWR and ScotRail it isnt anywhere near enough so they have suffered chronic overcrowding from the start.

 

The new (very expensive) trains are now coming into service but it it too little too late plus of course the increased leasing costs cannot be met by the (relative) low fares charged (a BR legacy) so the franchise, surprise surprise, cannot hit the financial targets and so the franchise holder, surprise surprise, wants to renegotiate.

You are confusing the current Arriva Northern with the previous franchise.

 

this current franchise certainly wasn’t let on zero growth. The TOC bid was based on a cascade of 15x, 170x and 319/769 as pacer replacements. That cascade has happened, albeit late. It is evident on many lines that the extra units are making a difference with a lot more 4 car services than ever before. The problem seems to be the number of services now shortformed back to 2 car.

 

The class 195s coming in for the long distance and/or new services under the ‘northern connect’ brand.

 

clearly late entry of the 195s and 769s has an overall affect on fleet strength hence so few pacers have gone in the bin.

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9 hours ago, lmsforever said:

Wasn't the Northern franchise set up as a non growth one and that probably has been a curse on I ever since plus a bad staff relations inviorment its been doomed ever since its inception.I do wonder if its nationalised will the RMT suddenly be cooperative with  management ?

No. The current Arriva Northern franchise is not set up for zero growth.

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11 hours ago, Covkid said:

 

 

Totally understand. My roster is different however and all my turns are in a 14 week roster cycle.  If I want a Sunday off, I need to take leave  But every  hour I work is paid at normal rate - no enhancements.  It is high time the DfT did the same for all traincrew, or publish achievable timetables. 

I suspect that if DafT, and not the employers, started to try to change terms of employment there would be a major row .  However the odd thing is that is of course exactly what the RMT want because they are shouting for everything to n be placed under DafT's control (aka 'nationalisation') and the odd thing is that unlike ASLE&F the RMT has stood out against wider changes to the basic working week - so presumably might do the same if DafT did control everything.

 

BTW I ceased to receive enhanced payments for Sunday turns, night turns, and Bank Holidays when I was promoted in April 1974.  And of course at my final 'big railway' employer there was no such thing as enhanced payments for any of that for everybody in the company.

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10 hours ago, black and decker boy said:

You are confusing the current Arriva Northern with the previous franchise.

Am I?

So why did I put 'original franchise' as the third and fourth words in the post you quoted?

 

The current franchise is still trying to recover from that ORIGINAL no growth franchise and with the late delivery of basically every unit they were promised it isnt going to improve any time soon no matter whose name is above the door.

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Following on from the strikes by Northern staff many passengers have moved to using other transport.

 

Don't think that the perception of Pacers helps with passenger satisfaction.

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As well as the  ‘planned cancellations’ (due to lack of staff) on Sunday there were a fair number of extra cancellations due to lack of staff. 

 

Sorry to say it but Northern are not fit for purpose and should have the franchise taken off them, plus some wacking big fines for such poor performance.

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It is well over twenty years since I started to work for what was then RRNE, and I am sure we were having this same conversation then - Even the bits about Pacers being outdated junk (twenty years later and they still run!) and about Guards exercising a degree of caution* when it comes to carrying out revenue protection on certain services.

 

* Commonly known as hiding in the back 'till they stop fighting - Though to be fair it never really seemed worth getting your lights put out for a £1.70 fare ;)

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2 hours ago, ColinK said:

As well as the  ‘planned cancellations’ (due to lack of staff) on Sunday there were a fair number of extra cancellations due to lack of staff. 

 

Sorry to say it but Northern are not fit for purpose and should have the franchise taken off them, plus some wacking big fines for such poor performance.

 

Part of the problem with the current franchise system is the "shoot the messenger" approach that protects DfT, who is likely the real culprit.

 

In the specific case of Northern, the service being provided is that which DfT is willing to pay for.

 

Per this (1) BBC article from the beginning of the year DfT pays Northern £284 million to operate the service - this means the passengers are getting exactly what DfT is willing to pay for.  As explained by others over the last several days solving the Sunday issues will require hiring additional staff, something that it would appear DfT are not willing to pay for (otherwise I assume it would be in the franchise agreement between DfT and Arriva).

 

So unless DfT suddenly start spending more money (and with an election wanted, I suppose anything is possible), removing Arriva will solve nothing - although if enough of the delayed upgrades to infrastructure and rolling stock suddenly finish it may appear to solve some things.

 

But in the meantime if the people served by Northern want a better service they really should be directing their anger at the responsible party, which for the most part is probably not Arriva.

 

1 - https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-46750304

 

 

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On 20/10/2019 at 03:56, royaloak said:

Yeah I reckon I could bust my annualised hours (roughly 1825) in about 9 months and then have 3 months off, where do I sign up?

 

Don't know how many drivers are still on annualised hours. Takes me back to an EWS presentation in Scarborough where it was it explained to us all how annualised hours was going to be the tool to help EWS grow it's business. After I had picked myself up off the floor ....................... 

I don't know what other depots were like but our Link 1 contained the senior drivers with steam, AC traction, passenger ratings and hefty route knowledge. Link 2 was also predominantly "fast" having some mail work and AC traction as well as good route knowledge. Link 3 was East / diesels and Link 4 was the local link which signed basic traction and local routes only. 

 

So for the benefit of those who don't know, the annualised house contract proscribed that each driver would have a contract (then) of 1686 hours to burn for the year. Each driver was in their link with a certain amount of working turns, rest days and some training days, but also a proportion of contract turns (C/Ts). The driver might start off on line 1 working 4 turns totally 31 hours, then a weekend off, then five C/Ts.  The concept was that the drivers with the highest hours used would stay at home on their C/Ts, whilst drivers with more hours to burn would be given C/Ts - the longest possible. Using this utopic plan each driver would "descend" on their hours used glideslope until at the end of February each driver would complete their contract hours.

 

Looking back at our driver on line 2 then, had his burned hours been high, he would stay at home for the week and not use any of the 1686 hours in his account. Compared to other colleagues his "glideslope" would recover during his week of unused C/Ts. A brilliant idea but totally impractical for EWS who intended to be a growing company, simply because EWS threw away the possibility for crews to earn overtime without impediment.

 

The new system resulted in link 4 drivers staying at home on their C/Ts because their route knowledge rarely gave them the scope to work - most of the work being specialist stuff for links 1 and 2. Conversely link1 and 2 bust their hours by October or November, and here was the really clever bit.  Once drivers had completed their contract hours they could do one of two things ;

 

Put their boots away until next February and have winter in Benidorm

Carry on working and receiving a pot of money at the end of their contract the following February which effectively paid them double time.

 

In my view it was a financial disaster which did very little to resolve the company's main area of concern.  The EWS motto at the time was "double in five and triple in ten", but capping drivers hours didn't make sense.       

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