Friday 9th August 2018 saw the latest management group meeting of the joint Clitheroe Line & East Lancashire CRPs.
Marjorie Birch, Chair of the group, welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced Raj Chandarana, Northern’s new Stakeholder Manager for the Central Region.
The note of the last meeting held on 20th April 2018 was accepted as a true and accurate record and no matters arising were raised.
Partnership Secretary’s Update
Richard Watts started his update by presenting a card and small gift to Vicky Cropper, Northern’s Regional Community & Sustainability Manager (Central) who is moving on to a new role with London Northwestern Railways. The group thanked her for all her hard work on behalf of the CRPs in her area and wished her all the best in her new role. It was noted that interviews for a replacement were underway.
Next Richard raised the issue of the heritage flagstones outside the CRL office at Accrington being heavily graffitied. The matter was reported to the Transport Police and to Northern. ISS, Northern’s cleaning & maintenance contractors, have now cleaned the graffiti away albeit after some intensive work.
Timetable issues were next on the agenda and Richard noted that since the introduction of the May ’18 timetable that services in the west had been hit with a cancellations and in particular the Lancashire DalesRail service which has seen a 50% cancellation rate so far this year. He is seeking compensation for this franchised service and this may come in the form of Northern picking up the publicity costs for the 2019 season.
Richard then spoke about the industrial action by RMT conductors and how this had badly affected customer confidence in the services. The next round of strikes is scheduled for 25th August, 1st September & 8th September. The strike on Saturday 25th August (the bank holiday weekend) will affect services on the Blackpool South to Colne route and will mean that there are no rail services to get to/ from the Colne Rhythm & Blues Festival.
Richard also spoke about Lancashire County Council’s intention to close Clitheroe Interchange. The Cabinet ha snow given a stay of execution to allow discussions with groups that had submitted expressions of interest.
Noted that CRL took part in the Bolton Station Gala on 30th June and that a group from the Prince’s Trust had carried out a project in the garden at Accrington station. Simon Clarke noted that he has attended the final presentation ceremony at Accrington & Rossendale College.
Mel Taylor from Blackburn with Darwen Council spoke about the Access Fund which saw LCC & BWD awarded a total of £1.94m of which £80k has been earmarked for investing in East Lancashire especially in connecting to jobs and cycling & walking. A survey of stations in Pendle and the Ribble Valley has been completed and stations in Blackburn, Hyndburn & Burnley will be completed shortly. Mel also mentioned that the Weaver’s Wheel was officially launched at Witton Park on 30th June 2018. Richard mentioned that the car park extension at Burnley Manchester Road is being planned and will provide 70 additional spaces.
Peter Atkinson, Pendle Borough Council, spoke about the terms of reference and noted that Pendle’s aspirations were for a 30 minute service with a passing loop to allow this to happen. Derek Jennings from the Friends of Pendle Stations gave an update on their work and noted that they had been able to purchase a recycled plastic tool bench (Ark Plastics).
British Transport Police
Dax Byrne-Turner introduced Elliot Cross, a new PCSO that has joined the Preston area. Dax spoke about the increasing amount of time that the BTP are having to spend with people with mental health problems as there is a shortage of secure beds for them. Noted that whilst suicide is increasing nationally it is decreasing on the railway and this can be attributed to more people being trained by the Samaritans and campaigns to help support those in crisis. Dax also mentioned that there is now a strong possibility that an officer may be based at Blackburn station.
Brian Barnsley from ACoRP spoke about their new staff and also about the issue of Network Rail licences for disued land. These are being delayed following an incident in Wales where a group were in breach of their licence.
Platform lengths along the Ribble Valley Line were discussed and it was noted that there was no consistency in accommodating four carriage trains with some conductors locking out units between Clitheroe & Blackburn and others not.
Peter Eastham (Ribble Valley Rail) passed a report to Vicky Cropper but the issues were mainly for Network Rail and included crumbling platform edges.
The Access for All scheme for Control Period 6 was mentioned and suggestions were for the additional work at Burnley Manchester Road to ease access to the Preston bound platform, with a reserve scheme at Accrington.