Venue: The Queens Hotel, New Station Street, City Square, Leeds, LS1 1JP
Contact: Gary Rich
Welcome and Apologies
The Chair to Welcome Members and the public to the meeting.
1.1 The Chief Executive welcomed Members and apologies were received from Cllrs Browne, Shore, Hannigan and Mayor Houchen.
Members to appoint a Chair and a Majority and Minority Party Vice Chair to the Rail North Committee.
Lead: Julie Openshaw
2.1 The Chief Executive invited nominations for the Chair of the Rail North Committee. Mayor Driscoll proposed Mayor Burnham and this was seconded by Mayor Coppard.
2.2 The Chair then invited nominations for the majority group Vice Chair. Mayor Rotheram proposed Cllr Hinchcliffe and this was seconded by Cllr Gannon.
2.3 The appointment of a Minority Party Vice Chair was deferred until the September meeting.
1) That Mayor Burnham be appointed Chair of the Rail North Committee for the 2023-24 Municipal Year
2) That Cllr Hinchcliffe be appointed majority group Vice Chair of the Rail North Committee for the 2023-24 Municipal Year.
3) That the appointment of the minority group Vice Chair be deferred until the next meeting.
Declarations of Interest
Members are required to declare any personal, prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interest they may have relating to items on the agenda and state the nature of such interest.
3.1 There were no Declarations of Interest.
To consider and approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record and to consider any requests for updates on matters contained therein.
4.1 The minutes of the Consultation Call held on 22 February 2023 were considered for their accuracy.
4.2 Mayor Rotheram requested that the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority be referred to as a Combined Authority to be consistent with the other combined authorities. He also requested that minute 5.7 be amended to read that people find it ‘more difficult to visit Liverpool at weekends because they cannot be certain of their return journeys.’
4.3 Cllr Hinchcliffe requested an update on the Leeds study Terms of Reference.
The Chief Executive explained that TfN had been told that this would be ready for the end of May; however there is still no firm date and TfN will continue to press the Department on this matter.
Cllr Hinchcliffe requested that the Committee continues to press on this matter.
4.4 The Chair stated that a case needs to be constructed for building a railway needed for the future, namely one that allows for major events to take place in the north of the country where people can access them via public transport with fewer issues specifically focussing on later night transport.
That the minutes of the Consultation Call held on 22 February 2023 be noted subject to the changes requested by Mayor Rotheram.
To consider the overview of the process for shaping train operator business plans for the 2024/25 financial year.
Lead: David Hoggarth
5.1 Members received the report from the Head of Strategic Rail who highlighted the key points in the report.
5.2 The Chair introduced the item by stating that this is an opportunity to consider how the North can support improving the railway rather than merely restoring it to a stable position. He explained that that the North is being told that this will be difficult financially and he encouraged the committee to challenge a whole country planning approach as cuts to services in the north mean whole communities can be left isolated. He stated that the conversation should be about improvement and highlighted the strong recovery to rail in the north.
On the issue of timetabling, he highlighted the success (in terms of performance) of the December 22 timetable change stating that the industry was seeking a 20% reduction in lateness and that the achievement has been 40%; he believes that approach taken may have been over cautious.
5.3 Cllr Hinchcliffe highlighted the importance of the social impact highlighting the fact that stopping rail services and disconnecting communities from growth is damaging for the economy and country.
She then highlighted a number of services within the West Yorkshire area that had been taken out of the timetable and sought assurance that these services will be replaced if there is capacity to do so. She also sought a commitment that there will be no further changes or detriment to services in the December 23 timetable.
5.4 The Chair suggested that the position needs to be reviewed as to the areas which suffered detriment in December 2022 and if there is any funding availability, then the industry should be asked to look at the scope for reinstatement of services. On the issue of funding this he stated his belief that there is some scope for efficiency as both operators are now under the operator of last resort (OLR).
5.5 Lord McLoughlin suggested that there should be an opportunity to look for revenue growth which will help to provide other services that are needed. He also highlighted the opportunity for station redevelopment with both providers now under the operator of last resort. He stressed the importance of grasping and developing this opportunity.
5.6 Mayor Driscoll stated the importance of making things simpler for the travelling public with transport being integrated leading to increased passenger numbers and greater revenue.
5.7 Mayor Coppard welcomed the direction of travel and recognised that there may not be a return to pre-Covid positions with a return to all services that existed previously. He did however request that progress be made to the return of some of the services in his area and stated his willingness to engage with operators to achieve this.
5.8 Mr Richard George highlighted the importance of prioritisation of leaders in the north to the process. He stated that the priorities of the North are very different to those involved in the business planning process in the DfT. He stressed the importance of the North’s ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider the update on the development of infrastructure across the rail network in the North, and with it associated train service enhancements and changes.
Lead: Charlie French
6.1 Members received the report from the Investment Planning Manager who highlighted the key points.
6.2 The Head of Strategic Rail informed the Committee that an amendment to the report had been proposed by Warrington. He explained that whilst they recognise the work in Manchester they have suffered a reduction in connectivity and service opportunity and have suggested that the second recommendation should ‘note’ the successful delivery of Manchester and North West Transformation Programme Configuration State 1 infrastructure and implementation of the December 2022 timetable change rather than ‘welcome’ it. The Committee agreed this amendment.
6.3 The Rail and Road Director informed the Committee that this is a draft document and as there is awareness of the strong views around aspects of the report he anticipates the need for strengthening of some aspects of the report. He also recognised the fact that things have changed since the publication of the report.
6.4 Mayor Coppard highlighted the challenges experienced in South Yorkshire which should begin to improve when the Leeds Area Study work begins.
6.5 Lord McLoughlin requested more background as to why what was suggested in the 2014 through the Transport & Works Act Order was now no longer appropriate.
In response the investment Planning Manager explained that the 2014 Order covered what was known as ‘Package C’ which covered remodelling of Manchester Oxford Road, work on the corridor and Platforms 15 and 16 Manchester Piccadilly. It did not however take into consideration the improvements required around the corridor and subsequent work has found that much of the Manchester congestion stems from the routes that feed the corridor and therefore a broader package of works is required. He explained that as a revised scheme for Oxford Road has now been developed the previous order needs to be removed to allow the new scheme to go ahead
6.6 The Chair expressed his frustration that almost a decade has passed since the first submission which is not good news for the residents of the North of England.
He went on to express concern at the reference to a new baseline timetable which he views as a ‘reductionist new reality’ where the work was intended to allow an expanded timetable. He sought reassurance that this would not dilute the ambition and a timeline for the work to be completed and a plan to be outlined. He stated Greater Manchester’s view on Platforms 15 and 16, reiterating the point that they are required.
6.7 Cllr Hinchcliffe welcomed the approach that taskforce has taken and the work that has been done, as work taking place in Manchester benefits the whole of the North. Mayor Rotheram stated that the benefits to the whole of the North need to be teased out more.
Cllr Hinchcliffe then raised the issue of connectivity to Manchester Airport and asked that this be within the scoping for Configuration State 3.
6.8 The Chair requested clarity on the position of Stockport as congested infrastructure.
The Investment Planning Manager explained that the concern with ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider the update on operational rail matters.
Lead: Gary Bogan
7.1 Members received the report from the Rail North Partnership Director who highlighted the key points of the report. Members also received a presentation for Mr Donovan who highlighted the key points within his presentation on revenue growth.
7.2 The Chair congratulated Northern on the work they are doing and stated that he hoped that TPE would soon be on a similar journey.
7.3 Mr Richard George provided an update on TPE. He explained that it was a very quick transition taking the company into operator of last resort. He praised the work of the previous Managing Director of TPE and their managers and Directors for all their hard work on the recovery plan. He explained that Mr Jackson is now the new Interim Managing Director as the organisation needed a reset. He explained that the key issue is to understand what is happening with the plan and the trajectory going forward. He stated that it is dealing with the right issue, specifically the need for more drivers but there are many other issues as well.
7.4 Mr Chris Jackson outlined TPE’s three key priorities which are to reduce cancellations, reset relationships and to support the delivery of the Transpennine Route Upgrade. He confirmed that the Committee can hold him to account on these three priorities.
He explained that an operational deep dive has been commissioned covering every aspect of the operation identifying what are the causal issues and what can be done to remedy these and this will be used to create a plan. He stated that the business has become far too complicated, with 4 different types of train creating a large training burden and over 5,000 outstanding training days which need to be reduced to improve reliability. He also highlighted that only 50% of drivers are competent to drive all types of train and all routes.
7.5 The Chair asked Mr Jackson to convey to his staff that at no point did the Committee mean to suggest that they were part of the problem and he offered the staff the Committee’s support.
On the Rail Academy he asked if the academy can be integrated to serve both operators. He also requested an update on rest day working.
Mr. George informed the Committee that he views rest day working as an accelerator but it is inappropriate to run a railway like this in the long term. He stated that more drivers are needed so that they can run a system that allows them to work without rest day working. However, the current situation means that this needs to be used in order to cut through the training backlog as quickly as possible.
Mr Jackson echoed Mr George’s view and explained that this issue is at the top of his list and stated he wanted to come to an agreement with ASLEF on this issue as soon as possible.
Mr Donavan addressed the question about the academy. He explained that they are looking to have an integrated approach across ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Date and time of next meeting
The date and time of the next meeting – Wednesday 13 September 2023 11.00am via Teams
Wednesday 13 September 2023
Exclusion of the Press and Public
To resolve that the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of Items X on the grounds that:
(1)It is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during such item(s), confidential information as defined in S100A(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) would be disclosed to them in breach of the obligation of confidence; and/or
(2)it / they involve(s) the likely disclosure of exempt information as set out in the Paragraphs [listed below] of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Resolved that the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of item 10 on the grounds that:
(1) It is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during such item(s), confidential information as defined inS100A(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) would be disclosed to them in breach of the obligation of confidence; and/or
(2) it / they involve(s) the likely disclosure of exempt information as set out in the Paragraphs [listed below] of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act1972 (as amended) and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Private Minutes of the Previous Meeting
To consider the approval and signature of the private minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record and to consider any requests for updates on matters contained therein.
10.1 The private minutes of the Consultation Call held on 22 February 2023 were considered for their accuracy.
That the private minutes of the Consultation Call held on 22 February 2023 be noted.