Saturday, August 15, 2020

Rose Hill and the Hyde loop must stay open - fight the power

I was really cross when I heard of plans to suspend train services on the route from Rose Hill Marple to Manchester Piccadilly via Hyde from September to December 2020. Northern Trains, also sneaked out the news in a letter to MPs. Given they are now run by the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort, part of the state, in public ownership, it was particularly galling.

The reason they give is hollow, supposedly it's due to insufficient staffing caused by the need to train for new rolling stock and new recruits. During this period there will be no trains at Rose Hill Marple, Woodley, Hyde Central, Hyde North and Fairfield stations. As a result, frequency will also be cut at Romiley, Guide Bridge and Ashburys. 

For what it's worth this blog fully supports the campaign to stop these plans and is delighted to be supported by the Goyt Valley Rail Users’ Association and all our local MPs along the route, Tory and Labour, and by local Councillors.

Rachel Singer, Chair of the Friends of Rose Hill Station, said “The withdrawal of service is not just inconvenient, it will cause distress and a severe sense of dislocation and disruption to life for many who use the service when we are all struggling to re-establish some routines as lockdown eases. We are also concerned about the many local school pupils who will not be able to use the service just as they return to school at the start the new session. Many of those affected will switch to travelling by car, causing more pollution and congestion. Others will be forced to use less convenient bus and rail services, increasing the pressure on these services and making social distancing harder. Some people will decide not to travel at all, undermining the Government’s efforts to get the economy growing again”.

Chair of the Goyt Valley Rail Users’ Association, Peter Wightman, added “Northern are asking passengers to find other ways to travel, pointing them to local bus services, and to rail stations on the routes from Glossop and from Sheffield via Marple. But this comes when bus services are being reduced, and passengers are already being asked to try to avoid the rail route from Sheffield via Marple due to overcrowding. With capacity on alternative routes being limited due to social distancing, overcrowding may force passengers to find another means of transport, or make it impossible to maintain social distancing.

“The longer this closure goes on, the harder it will be to persuade passengers to come back to rail, working against the aim of making our transport system more sustainable. This also undermines the government’s commitment to rebuild passenger confidence when it took over the running of services across the Northern rail network in March.”

The user groups point out that several thousand people have signed petitions against Northern’s plans in less than a week, and they have created a storm of opposition on social media. The groups are committed to fighting the plans until they are scrapped. 

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