Rail users hoping things can only get better in 2019

Last year was a terrible one for the rail industry with the May timetable meltdown the most obvious failing, writes Barry Coward.

Closer to home, the knock-on effects of late electrification of the Manchester to Preston line included the abandonment of the introduction of a regular service to Gainsborough Central as the diesel trains needed to operate the service could not be released from duties in Manchester.

The site has been cleared for the new platform two at Lea Road Station

The site has been cleared for the new platform two at Lea Road Station

Now the Glasgow to Edinburgh electrification is complete, diesel trains are coming south of the border to Northern Rail.

However, they will require engineering and maintenance work before they are fit for their new services.

The key date for the new May timetable this year is February 28 when Network Rail release the timetable to the public.

Rail users are keeping their fingers crossed that the long-awaited service to Gainsborough Central will finally appear in the timetable.

Last year’s abandoned timetable provided 12 return trains between Central and Sheffield each day, but not on Sundays.

That timetable was designed to favour travel to Gainsborough rather than away from the town as the first train arrived at Central before 8 am but the first arrival in Sheffield was after 9am.

If the new Gainsborough Central service comes into existence then trains from Lea Road will, for most of the day, run non-stop between Worksop and Sheffield.

Whether or not Central station will see any changes 2019 is going to be a year of change for Lea Road.

Already vegetation has been cleared between the Lea Road bridge and the station subway so that work can start on constructing a new platform two.

Later in the year Network Rail also plan to improve the access to platform one.

The failure of Northern to provide trains on Saturdays on both the Lincoln and Cleethorpes routes due to an industrial dispute with members of the RMT union is not only hitting the train operating company’s revenue but also businesses along the line who rely on Saturday being their busiest day.

In December Andrew Jones MP, the new Rail Minister, confirmed that despite his department requiring Northern to operate trains with only a driver, Northern will now be permitted to have a second member of staff on trains.

However the Minister did not state that the second person must be ‘safety trained’ as the RMT union demands.

Sadly, strikes continue for the foreseeable future.