March 2013

Station Improvements:

The clean appearance of the station, in particular the waiting room seating areas was commented upon approvingly. Unfortunately the sliding doors had still not been repaired and further continued use would ultimately lead to more damage and a bigger problem.

It was felt that, as an immediate resolution to the problem seemed unlikely, Northern Rail should, despite the contractual dispute relating to the doors, act to correct the situation before further damage and argue the contractual point later.

The heater in the waiting room was largely a waste of time and energy given that the doors don’t close.The far end bin was broken requiring a replacement hoop and the actual waiting room itself still had need of a bin for passenger use. It was noted that the opposite platform was still host to a multitude of weeds.

It was suggested that the dustpan and brush required replacement with something more substantial.

Concern was expressed about the lock on the cupboard and problems with the rods. It was concluded that a padlock would be a better option.

Interchange  Council Response:

Peter Frost had been approached at the end of the TCG meeting with the suggestion that he had possibly misunderstood the proposals we had put forward. This approach had been followed up with an extensive letter but as yet no response had been forthcoming from the council via Peter Frost .

This was judged to be a wider issue which might be taken outside the boundaries of the council and referred to Coastliners as they are interacting with Steve Payne of Tees Valley Unlimited to get the planners onside for more bus/rail integration. It was decided to take it to the Coastliners meeting and report back to the next meeting.

Website:

The student involved at the college had returned from paternity leave and they were now in a position to move forward. A meeting had been set up with Richard Peacock and the aforementioned student for the following Thursday March 28.

The library were also running a scheme under the title ‘Then and Now’ involving the creation of websites dedicated to various aspects of life in Hartlepool in days gone by. Information from our website could be incorporated into this in due course according to the Chief Librarian.

Grand Central Ambassadors:

The scheme was working well and we now have the numbers of all of the Eaglescliffe Ambassadors and the idea of phoning ahead to Eaglescliffe was working efficiently.

We had been asked to report any significant delays and Sean English had indicated he would come back with the proformas to record data after consulting with train crew.

We were informed that Eaglescliffe now have their own CIS system.

It was reported that there had been 20% growth in N.E. services since last year. It was expected that in May the service that terminated in Hartlepool would continue on to Sunderland. There would be no change to the rolling stock until 2016 after Track Access agreement.

Complimentary remarks from passengers are undermined when we are unable to tell people where first class is. G.C. are boasting in the papers regarding speed and punctuality of trains but here in Hartlepool we are trying to help them to their goals yet they can’t tell us which end first class is.

The important thing is that whichever way round it is, the information gets back to the customer and the good example of East Coast was highlighted whereby if a train is the wrong way round that information is displayed on the CIS. Operational reasons may cause reversals but that information should be relayed to the people on the ground.

On the question of how to treat lost property it was underlined that it should go to either Sunderland or King’s Cross.

In relation to delays it was maintained that any time lost on minor delays between here and Northallerton was easily made up but trains to Eaglescliffe were on a very tight schedule particularly on Sundays and there was little actual leeway. Any delay by GC which had a knock on effect on Northern or TransPennine would result in a fine.

Transport Champions Group:

Attendance at the TCG meeting was extremely poor, of the 90 members listed there only about 30 attendees

It was confirmed that the two original groups ( TTPG and TCG ) had been abandoned to be replaced by one group known as the Transport Champions Group. Only a handful of people had submitted apologies and this was a culture in the town which seemed to be on the increase as evidenced today.

There was no business done on the day other than to talk about what was going to be done in the future. Future meetings would be themed meetings. It was only after receiving the minutes of this meeting did we observe that Rail matters didn’t even appear until 2015.

Friends put forward and approved the idea of proposing that future meetings of the TCG group have a central theme but also that items of a more pressing nature could be brought up in the general part of the meeting

Rail services should also be discussed at a much earlier stage given that there were concerns about franchises. However it was considered that the majority of the people attending would have little interest in rail franchises.

The passing of TTPG who dealt with things decisively and in depth was bemoaned.

The Friends gave the authority of the FoHS for the Secretary to write to Jayne expressing our concerns and outlining our suggestions. It was formally moved and seconded that a letter be sent.

Coastliners:

It was reported that Richard Allen, Northern Rail Area director was present, with Paul Henry, Colin Savage and others.

Their franchise was extended to 2013 and will probably be extended again to 2014 to take into account delays to present franchise program.

Passenger journeys have increased over 50%.

Future of Class 142 was uncertain.

Presently undertaking a new refurbishment program. By 2020 disabled toilets had to be installed. Until franchise is relet everything is on hold.

Discussion took place on rail and buses integration.

Lot of publicity for Leeds and Manchester, the North-East voice needs to be heard.

Northern to run an hourly service to Nunthorpe from 2014 when James Cook Station opens.

Discussion with County Council regarding new station at Horden.

Connectivity problems discussed with TransPennine for 2014 but because TP are an intercity operator they get first choice on the graph.

The next meeting of Coastliners would be the AGM on April 18 where Steve Payne of Tees Valley would be present, making it a very attractive meeting.

Attention was drawn to the interface between Northern in their entirety and SLUG services in Saltburn, Darlington etc.

There is a two hourly Sunday service and an hourly Saltburn service and no interface between the two. The hourly Saltburn line service needs to be retimed to go through Middlesbrough after the Coastline train stops at Middlesbrough. This would have the effect of making them later and is an improvement because you can use the Coastline services to go to Redcar and Saltburn and the Coastline services also to go to Darlington because you have this three minute connection at Thornaby giving a guaranteed route to Darlington. The Monday to Saturday timings are also not ideal and it might be worthwhile for Coastliners and SLUG to look at and consider this before the next meeting.

Any Other Business:

It had been noticed that there were no P.A. announcements on Sunday in the station and it was queried whether it was broken, it was also remarked upon by a number of Friends that waiting passengers, in the absence of announcements, are disinclined to move to be ready for boarding leading to possible delays.

The amendments for the Easter period for GC were listed in the station but had not been listed for this week or last week and also not on GC website.

Concern was raised regarding the recent meeting at which Paul Henry finally dealt with the outdated Station Adopters Booklets and the lack of training for us and potential legal problems if anything happened. It was felt that although initially the training session seemed to go well the further we progressed through it the more the handout did not fit us to the point where there were a number of exclusions and amendments. This was a manual clearly designed for contractors and their employees and found to be totally unsatisfactory. Contrasted was made with Swindon where it was announced how many adopter groups to their credit Northern had throughout the North of England, around 29. It was hard to understand why Northern, as an entity, could not produce a proper common guidebook relevant to adopters to cater for the large number of people who made up these groups.

It was suggested away forward might be to contact other station groups direct maybe in Yorkshire to establish if this is a failing for Northern globally or if it is only peculiar to this area. One of the Friends has a contact at Hebden Bridge who is an adopter and he will ask him.

Everyone shared the concerns and it was suggested there should be a meeting between Northern and representatives of all station adopter groups.

Next Meeting:

The next meeting was scheduled to take place at 9-13 Scarborough Street, Hartlepool, on Friday 17 May 2013 at 10.00 a.m. immediately followed by the Grand Central Ambassadors meeting.

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