NorthernTPE franchise consultation
Other Manchester-Sheffield options
The nation-building Liverpool-Norwich express train service should be retained as a through route and further developed, not broken up.
Breaking up Liverpool-Norwich would be bad for the taxpayer, bad for business and academia, bad for tourism and bad for the less mobile. Further development is the right way forward.
Liverpool-Norwich shows continued strong growth. Several times in the past few years, Liverpool-Norwich has achieved a passenger satisfaction score of 93%.
Breaking up Liverpool-Norwich would be bad for the taxpayer.
Replacing the through service with shuttles at the same frequency would require more vehicles. So costs would rise.
At the same time, some passengers would desert the railway if their journey involved an extra change of train. So earnings would be less than if the through service continued.
The Department for Transport wants a “common standard” across all services between Manchester and Sheffield; it could achieve that by specifying it.
Breaking up Liverpool-Norwich would be bad for business and academia.
Grantham, Norwich, Peterborough and Thetford are all government-designated Growth Points. Tens of thousands of homes are planned in the Fens, in Suffolk and around Cambridge, from which people drive into Ely to catch the Liverpool trains. The Liverpool-Norwich train service helps attract businesses, skilled workers and professionals to these towns, offering both easy business travel, perhaps to “head office”, and the opportunity to visit friends or leisure destinations. Good transport links help business productivity, particularly when they provide good access into city centres and between cities. Liverpool, Manchester, Peterborough, Sheffield and Warrington stations are all in central locations.
Undergraduates are the nation’s future. Through trains make the universities in Norwich easily accessible to both students and visiting academics from Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield while providing more effective choice of where to study for those living east of Nottingham.
Breaking up Liverpool-Norwich would be bad for tourism.
Tourism is a significant part of the economy east of Nottingham with resorts and councils seeking to enhance their all-year short-beak offer. Not only does Liverpool-Norwich allow visitors to travel easily, comfortably and sustainably from Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield but it ensures hourly exposure of the five towns east of Nottingham on station screens and announcements in three of England’s biggest cities.
Breaking up Liverpool-Norwich would be bad for the less mobile.
Britain has an ageing population and Norwich was the “senior railcard capital” of the former Central Trains. There are many people living east of Nottingham who have family connections with the big cities further west. Comfortable, reliable and convenient through trains allow them to keep in personal contact, improving their quality of live and well-being. If the route is broken up, some might continue to travel by train, perhaps booking assistance at stations where they will have to change. Others would have to be fetched by car or stay at home.
Further development is the right way forward.
Recent improvements include a 0651 business express from Norwich, extension to Norwich of the 1352 from Liverpool, fewer cancellations, 2500 extra seats a day west of Nottingham, CCTV and cleaner stainless steel toilets.
Our vision is of reliable, clean and comfortable trains with high levels of customer service, so we see a need for a “whole route” approach to engineering access as a step towards a seven-day railway with trains on Sundays during university terms a priority, a constant focus on minimising cancellations, mid-journey cleaning on all trains travelling the full length of the route, effective air-conditioning, working even in hot weather and regular reviews of the balance between seats and luggage space.
We welcome the provision of catering between Liverpool and Nottingham and the catering trial further east, which must be reliable to be commercially viable.
Our vision is of accurate real-time information for passengers at all times, so we warmly welcome the ongoing replacement of temperamental public address equipment on the trains and see a need for ensuring that coach identification gadgets are always correctly used on trains which divide at Nottingham and for adding information to screens and station announcements west of Nottingham on which comes come through to Norwich.
Our vision is of welcoming stations, where facilities meet or exceed all government targets for their size. The performance of station facility operators in providing toilets, waiting rooms and retail advice at the specified times needs to be robustly monitored and challenged.
There could now be a case for looking closely at the facilities which attract and support business travel. We should like to see more trains via Grantham travel between Nottingham and Norwich in a car-competitive 160 minutes or less.
22 June 2014