My latest blogpost, and the announcement of a pilot project to provide full time cover for the two key late trains from Newcastle to Carlisle, has upset some of the train guards / staff apparently. You can read the post and the indignant and upset comment of the guard here: http://guyopperman.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/campaign-for-increased-public.html
I have to say I could not disagree more with the individual guard, or the sentiments.
I would make 2 points, and a couple of comments:
- I have had repeated complaints about these late trains at public meetings, surgeries in Haltwhistle in particular, and in letters. Sadly for the staff member who wrote in saying there is not a problem the evidence is against him and he should look to his own colleagues - as one of the people who complained was a train guard with Northern. There has definitely been a problem. It has not gone away. But I hope it will now.
- secondly the company Northern Rail, and the British Transport Police agree. The past prosecutions do not lie, and they have agreed to change the rota to address the problem. They are not spending their cash without a reason. In my view they should be applauded for listening.
- this train line really matters. Many people have gone to great lengths to improve the trains, the stations, the businesses that operate en route, and so much more. It is a line that is integral to our commuters, tourists and occasional users like myself and many others.
Going forward I am pushing hard to support the many people involved with the Gilsland Station Project, talking to Network rail about upgrades regarding train crossings, attempting to get an Oyster card system to operate on both the trains and buses, and trying to help those who want everything from better disabled access to station improvements.
I could say more but would finish on one point. To argue that I am doing this to get extra votes is laughable. As an MP there are only so many battles that you, and your very few staff, can fight, and I could do other campaigns that are way more populist, and would affect more people. But, the truth is I like trains, and I think this is a vital line that needs supporting if Tynedale has a future. And it does need work, as episodes like Torchgate, the franchise issues and other problems with the carriages have shown. Also, the old adage is very simple, and the staff should really grasp this: either we persuade people to use a service - or we will lose or lessen it. All I am doing is representing the constituents who write in, complain as users, and am trying to improve a crucial extra artery down the Tyne Valley. If any staff want to write in and ask for other changes I will help them too. To finish I would thank the Tyne Valley Rail Users Group for their support.