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Rail commuters fight back

Fed up Liverpool-Manchester passengers put squeeze on East Midlands Trains by sending controller something fishy in post

Published on November 25th 2008.

Rail commuters fight back

ANGRY passengers on the Liverpool to Manchester rail line have launched a fightback campaign against East Midlands Trains by sending tinned sardines to rail boss Tim Shoveller.

The move is in protest at the atrocious and cramped service provided on the troubled peak time service first highlighted on Confidential here and here a couple of weeks ago when we urged affected passengers to get in touch with Geoff Hoon, the Transport Minister, to put him in the picture and demand change.

The campaign, TrainSardine.org, is targeting the rail company which regularly turns passengers into sardines by sending two-carriage trains out from Lime Street in peak times when it should send four. The “half size” trains result in severe overcrowding with many commuters between the North West's two major cities unable to board trains to get to work

Stories of passengers passing out are not unknown. Meanwhile anyone owning a guide dog misses the train altogether. For while there is no health and safety law to prevent humans being carried in such a manner, the RSPCA has a stricter code that advises animals must not travel in such alarming conditions.

A spokesperson from TrainSardine.org, said; “This campaign is run by passengers who are sick of the poor service offered and the excuses we have been given over the past twelve months to explain the shortage of carriages and overcrowding.

“East Midlands has a legal contract to provide a service. However, they only have to communicate late or cancelled trains.”

There appears to be no straight cut solution, with everyone holding everyone else accountable to some degree.

East Midlands, owned by the FTSE 100-listed Stagecoach, won the right to run the Liverpool to Norwich line, which runs through Manchester, when Central Trains was broken up in November 2007. But, say campaigners, Central submitted low passenger figures to the Government and so, when they lost the bid to East Midlands, they were able to hand only half the necessary carriages over.

New carriages were then ordered on lease, but the company supplying East Midlands suspended service after the Government, fearing a monopoly, called for an investigation of the carriage leasing industry. (This after it emerged that the big three leasing firms control more than 90 per cent of the market. In 2007, they were making around £175m a year profits.)

East Midlands, commenting on the trainsardine campaign, said in a statement: “We fully support the objective of improving capacity on our Liverpool to Norwich line, and we do sympathise with passengers who travel on this particular route and have to experience overcrowding on some services.

“We recognise that this is a key issue for our business, and therefore a key priority, and we have taken a number of steps to try and provide additional capacity, including our ongoing £10 million refurbishment of the trains that run along this route which will provide more seats for passengers, and strengthening a number of trains from two- to four-car during the busiest times.“

When pressed as to when the four carriages might become a reality, however, an EMT spokeswoman told us that this was actually happening already - good news - but on the Sheffield to Manchester stretch - bad news. Furthermore, she could not give further firm comment as to if, or when, peak trains on the Liv-Manc leg would benefit from a similar increase in capacity.

The statement went on to call for passenger feedback to help its case with the DoT for more trains which, it says, it cannot fund through passenger revenue alone, and “would like to thank those involved in www.trainsardine.org for helping with this process.”

And, perhaps, for their fish. A trainsardiner said today: “We are disappointed that East Midlands Trains are going to try and pack more people on the trains by refurbishing them. This will leave even more standing and even more overcrowding. The simple way to deliver the service they bid for is for them to increase the number of carriages."


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AnonymousNovember 25th 2008.

Quote from today's Financial Times:"The Office of Rail Regulation said neither Virgin Trains nor East Midlands Trains had yet signed vital track access agreements that will deliver a range of faster, more frequent services".Will EMT tell us whether this will affect the Liverpool?

JoanNovember 25th 2008.

It's about time - that journey has been hell recently - when I first moved to Nottingham innthe early 90's it only took about 2 hours 40 minutes to get from Liverpool to Nottingham, now it's anyone's guess! A seat = a luxury and all this for nearly £40 if you haven't been able to fathom the labyrinthine ways of the various websites offering tickets... £40 and no guarantee of being able to get on the damn thing!I shall be sending my sardines forthwith, although I was saving them as my Granny's credit-crunch-Chrimbo present....

East Midland - sort it outNovember 25th 2008.

What the film didnt show is the amount of people left of the platform not asble to get on the train or to arrive on time to work. Good work with the campaign, hopefully something will be done about it.

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