To receive an update on rail operational matters and updates from the operators and Network Rail.
Lead: Gary Bogan
5.1 Members received the report from the Rail North Partnership Director who explained that this had continued to be a difficult period for rail including for the two operators in the North. This is because of high level of staff absence, Industrial Relations issues and the absence of Rest Day Working which had been used to help clear the driver training backlog.
He highlighted a letter that had been received from ASLEF about an error in his previous report to the Committee on the issue of Industrial relations and explained that he will write to Mr. Whelan to clarify his point following the meeting.
5.2 Ms. Tricia Williams explained that there is a recovery on rail but demand is supressed. She stated that the industry is working within financial constraints and is beginning to see some inflationary pressures on costs, and this coupled with industrial relations issues is beginning to impact on service delivery.
She explained that the May timetable has now been introduced with the focus on reliability and certainty for customers including reducing short term cancellations.
She then outlined Northern’s progress during the recovery. She explained that demand is now at 88% of pre covid, with commuter demand beginning to improve, and leisure and weekends being the strongest areas of recovery.
She updated the committee on the current situation regarding industrial relations.
Members were updated on training which is being impacted by having no Rest Day Agreement. It was highlighted that there were a total of 9000 days to be completed.
5.3 Mr. Matt Golton provided an update on TPE’s recovery with demand currently 75% of pre covid levels but revenue at 85%.
He then addressed current performance levels and the impact these are having on customers, communities and colleagues. He stated that current performance levels are not acceptable and wants to get back to pre winter performance levels. He outlined the challenges they are facing which include higher than usual sickness levels, loss of driver Rest Day wWrking, the RMT dispute and driver training backlogs.
5.4 Mr. Matthew Rice explained that the single biggest impact on performance is the actions of external people, this includes trespassing and theft of copper cable with these having a detrimental impact on services. He informed the Committee that good progress is being made on the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) and on East Coast Main Line enhancements.
5.5 Members raised with the operators a number of issues relevant to their areas.
5.6 Mayor Driscoll explained that it is the job of Committee Members to develop economic prosperity for their areas and a key element to enabling them to do so is having a functioning transport system which the current situation with the transport system across the North is making this difficult to do. He appealed for there to be adequate investment in the rail industry and urged the Government to fix this because a modern levelled up Northern economy can’t be achieved without adequate investment in the rail system.