When will Castleford - Wakefield - Huddersfield services be fully restored?

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bobblebob

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Before covid this service was a direct hourly service. During the lockdown understandably the service was reduced. However since things began opening up again, virtually all lines have returned to some sort of normal service, however this route hasnt. There are i believe 2-3 direct trains a day now thats it.

Ive messaged Northern asking when the direct hourly service will resume and they dont have an answer. I have a feeling due to the terrible reliability/punctuality of this service, they're using covid as an excuse to knock it on the head.
 
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yorksrob

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When is this service going to come back properly ? It's months after lockdown and still these reasons are still at stupid times.

That's the problem with Northern. They'll cut services at the drop off a hat, yet it takes years for them to come back again.
 

61653 HTAFC

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When is this service going to come back properly ? It's months after lockdown and still these reasons are still at stupid times.

That's the problem with Northern. They'll cut services at the drop off a hat, yet it takes years for them to come back again.
According to some on here (not me, I hasten to add) it only carries fresh air, so it'll probably be the next Goole/Pontefract Baghill.

Those same people fall silent when discussing the empty off-peak 8-car runs to Chessington or Hampton Court, of course.
 

Starmill

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Some services have been tacitly abandoned with no plan to restore them. It's not only at Northern, TfW and CrossCountry have also not restored lots of services and they will be away for at least two years. At SWR and ScotRail these have been formalised as proposals to withdraw lots of services.
 

tbtc

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It's months after lockdown

Issues like drivers haven't been resolved though

That's the problem with Northern. They'll cut services at the drop off a hat, yet it takes years for them to come back again.

This is the nationalised railway though - there's no commitment to franchises any more, the Government aren't going to force them to honour the minimum service standards in a seven year franchise, any promises went out of the window - who's going to force them?

To echo comments above - it may be "better" that Northern's services are still technically in limbo than quantified as significant cuts (e.g. ScotRail's "new" timetables will see the frequency on links like Kirkcaldy - Edinburgh or Falkirk - Glasgow chopped in half)

Be careful what you wish for, which is advice I tried to give to people previously complaining about privatisation ... people who now seem surprised that the less accountable nationalised railway is able to make whatever cuts it wants, or has removed a lot of the cheap tickets that people enjoyed for many years
 

yorksrob

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Issues like drivers haven't been resolved though



This is the nationalised railway though - there's no commitment to franchises any more, the Government aren't going to force them to honour the minimum service standards in a seven year franchise, any promises went out of the window - who's going to force them?

To echo comments above - it may be "better" that Northern's services are still technically in limbo than quantified as significant cuts (e.g. ScotRail's "new" timetables will see the frequency on links like Kirkcaldy - Edinburgh or Falkirk - Glasgow chopped in half)

Be careful what you wish for, which is advice I tried to give to people previously complaining about privatisation ... people who now seem surprised that the less accountable nationalised railway is able to make whatever cuts it wants, or has removed a lot of the cheap tickets that people enjoyed for many years

No, this is the privatised railway.

John Majors railways act is still at large.
 

skyhigh

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This view is too simplistic.
Indeed, it's way too simplistic. Given that Northern is now run by the OLR and the DfT have input into pretty much everything, it's wrong to suggest that the government has nothing to do with it.

What's happening with this route is a direct DfT decision.
 

yorksrob

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This view is too simplistic.

It is - I was annoyed.

That said, Northern has been playing the Covid card for a long time. With the passengers flooding back, its hard to see how it can justify the missing services to the public for evermore.
 

Spartacus

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Kinda makes the case for rebuilding Ravensthorpe look rather flimsy when few of the trans that would additionally call there are running.

I've always found it to be somewhat of a Cinderella service at the best of times, as per many of the services which don't serve Leeds, being poorly promoted even in timetables, leading to poor ridership. The journey time between Huddersfield and Wakefield knocks spots off going via car, and changing at Mirfield was often quicker for some stations than going via Leeds.
 

yorksrob

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To echo comments above - it may be "better" that Northern's services are still technically in limbo than quantified as significant cuts (e.g. ScotRail's "new" timetables will see the frequency on links like Kirkcaldy - Edinburgh or Falkirk - Glasgow chopped in half)

I think with the reduction in commuter numbers, there might well be a justification for a reduction in frequencies to match current demands, particularly where a baseline half hourly service can be maintained anyway. Removing a service completely is a bit different.

The problem is that up here, we generally had lousy frequencies and capacity to begin with, yet the DfT in London will still probably want its pound of flesh from the regional railway.
 

geoffk

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If the UK is to meet its climate targets, we will need vastly better public transport - rail, tram and bus. It will have to be paid for somehow. Meanwhile fuel duty for motorists has not increased for 11 years.

I no longer live in Northern territory but, as well as Huddersfield - Castleford, other "missing" services include an hourly Liverpool - Wigan stopper, Liverpool - Warrington BQ, Rochdale - Man Vic - Blackburn, Man Vic - Stalybridge, Hazel Grove - Buxton and Sheffield - Gainsborough Central. The first five have the effect of reducing frequencies at some intermediate stations to hourly, the last mentioned was part of a plan to speed up Sheffield - Lincoln journey times.

Yet other recent improvements like hourly Hull - Scarborough, Bishop Auckland and Hope Valley stopper have been reinstated, along with the Halifax - Hull service which practically runs on top of TPE coming back from Hull. We can only wait and see what happens in May 2022.
 

Peterthegreat

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Stopping services between Sheffield and Doncaster have been reduced to hourly despite Rotherham and Swinton being particularly busy pre Covid (700 and 400k pa per year). Since the PTEs are no longer signatories to franchise agreements no one is holding Northern and Transport for the North Manchester to account.
 
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geoffk

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Stopping services between Sheffield and Doncaster have been reduced to hourly despite Rotherham and Swinton particularly being particularly busy pre Covid (700 and 400k pa per year). Since the PTEs are no longer signatories to franchise agreements no one is holding Northern and Transport for the North Manchester to account.
Missed that one.
 

Watershed

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Yet other recent improvements like hourly Hull - Scarborough, Bishop Auckland and Hope Valley stopper have been reinstated, along with the Halifax - Hull service which practically runs on top of TPE coming back from Hull. We can only wait and see what happens in May 2022.
To be fair, those services are (mostly) crewed out of different depots from the services you mention. The shortage of traincrew will be worse in some places than others.
 

IanXC

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I have a feeling due to the terrible reliability/punctuality of this service, they're using covid as an excuse to knock it on the head.

Since the service was extended to Castleford its reliability and punctuality increased markedly - having 2 units going up and down meant there was a decent amount of time and both ends, where 1 doing Huddersfield to Kirkgate was quite tight.

I no longer live in Northern territory but, as well as Huddersfield - Castleford, other "missing" services include an hourly Liverpool - Wigan stopper, Liverpool - Warrington BQ, Rochdale - Man Vic - Blackburn, Man Vic - Stalybridge, Hazel Grove - Buxton and Sheffield - Gainsborough Central. The first five have the effect of reducing frequencies at some intermediate stations to hourly, the last mentioned was part of a plan to speed up Sheffield - Lincoln journey times.

Yet other recent improvements like hourly Hull - Scarborough, Bishop Auckland and Hope Valley stopper have been reinstated, along with the Halifax - Hull service which practically runs on top of TPE coming back from Hull. We can only wait and see what happens in May 2022.

What I suspect you'll find is that each of those services is generally crewed by a specific depot, so that each has a reduction in work to take account of the traincrew who haven't passed through training during Covid to replace those who have left.

Its also worth noting that only half of the Halifax - Hull service has been reinstated, its currently every 2 hours rather than every hour.

The other issue with the Huddersfield - Castleford service is the impact of TRU. At this stage reinstating the full service only to have to remove it again in the future when capacity at Castleford and on the route in total could become a reality, probably puts this one towards the lower end of the list of priorities too.
 

driverd

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What I suspect you'll find is that each of those services is generally crewed by a specific depot, so that each has a reduction in work to take account of the traincrew who haven't passed through training during Covid to replace those who have left.

Its also worth noting that only half of the Halifax - Hull service has been reinstated, its currently every 2 hours rather than every hour.
Not really a train crew problem. Its also ironic that, despite having insufficient crew to run this service, enough crew from (primarily) the same depot have been found to run the new half hourly York via Harrogate services and return Hull - Halifax to hourly from December.

In short, this isn't a crew issue - it's a question of will.
 

Roast Veg

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According to some on here (not me, I hasten to add) it only carries fresh air, so it'll probably be the next Goole/Pontefract Baghill.
There is, of course, nothing to stop a Huddersfield to Goole combined basket case service from being run. Is it better to keep all your bad eggs in one basket?
 

tbtc

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I think with the reduction in commuter numbers, there might well be a justification for a reduction in frequencies to match current demands, particularly where a baseline half hourly service can be maintained anyway. Removing a service completely is a bit different

What'd be an acceptable alternative?

Two units run the service hourly from Huddersfield to Castleford?

One unit does so on a bi-hourly pattern?

One unit tries to provide an hourly Huddersfield - Wakefield service and gets back in time to fit an hourly pattern (ignoring the Castleford end)?

Is there any compromise that you've be happy with? Or is anything short of an hourly Huddersfield - Castleford service going to fall short in your eyes?

Because, as I see it, pre-Covid, there were six trains an hour from Huddersfield to Leeds and seven or eight trains an hour from Leeds to Wakefield (and two per hour from Leeds to Castleford) - so plenty of opportunities to get between Huddersfield and Wakefield/ Castleford each hour - in fact, given how slow the line through Kirkgate was, it was often faster to change in Leeds between the frequent services than wait for the hourly Sprinter to provide a direct service trundling through Healey Mills.

There are no major intermediate stops on the Huddersfield - Wakefield line, so nowhere has lost its (entire) service as a result of this cut - the available units/ crews have been prioritised on busier services

Whilst I appreciate that's annoying if you live near one of the intermediate stations (e.g. Normanton), it seems sensible to focus Covid withdrawals on routes that can be axed without leaving any large places without any train service - people can still travel from Huddersfield to Wakefield/ Castleford with frequent connections at Leeds.

Any other cuts would leave some places without any service whatsoever or create awkward gaps in the timetable that would make it less attractive for passengers (e.g. you now have to remember that every third diagram on your service has been cut, creating significant gaps and a disincentive to travel)

It's a bit like the bad old days of Northern Spirit, when a decision was taken to abandon the Leeds - Castleford axis and put people on replacement buses for months on end (saving a colleague of mine a fortune at the time, as the bus drivers never checked tickets), rather than leaving them with a token service and other places with reductions too

this is the privatised railway.

John Majors railways act is still at large.

The problem is that up here, we generally had lousy frequencies and capacity to begin with, yet the DfT in London will still probably want its pound of flesh from the regional railway.

You wanted a "nationalised" railway... what did you think was going to realistically happen?

Look at how the Government of the past eleven years has treated public services and tell me that you're in any way surprised that they are looking to save money from loss making endeavours?

This is nothing to do with John Major - this is the predictable result of nationalising trains during a Government who are looking to save money

As I've said... be careful what you wish for.
 

yorksrob

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What'd be an acceptable alternative?

Two units run the service hourly from Huddersfield to Castleford?

One unit does so on a bi-hourly pattern?

One unit tries to provide an hourly Huddersfield - Wakefield service and gets back in time to fit an hourly pattern (ignoring the Castleford end)?

Is there any compromise that you've be happy with? Or is anything short of an hourly Huddersfield - Castleford service going to fall short in your eyes?

Because, as I see it, pre-Covid, there were six trains an hour from Huddersfield to Leeds and seven or eight trains an hour from Leeds to Wakefield (and two per hour from Leeds to Castleford) - so plenty of opportunities to get between Huddersfield and Wakefield/ Castleford each hour - in fact, given how slow the line through Kirkgate was, it was often faster to change in Leeds between the frequent services than wait for the hourly Sprinter to provide a direct service trundling through Healey Mills.

There are no major intermediate stops on the Huddersfield - Wakefield line, so nowhere has lost its (entire) service as a result of this cut - the available units/ crews have been prioritised on busier services

Whilst I appreciate that's annoying if you live near one of the intermediate stations (e.g. Normanton), it seems sensible to focus Covid withdrawals on routes that can be axed without leaving any large places without any train service - people can still travel from Huddersfield to Wakefield/ Castleford with frequent connections at Leeds.

Any other cuts would leave some places without any service whatsoever or create awkward gaps in the timetable that would make it less attractive for passengers (e.g. you now have to remember that every third diagram on your service has been cut, creating significant gaps and a disincentive to travel)

It's a bit like the bad old days of Northern Spirit, when a decision was taken to abandon the Leeds - Castleford axis and put people on replacement buses for months on end (saving a colleague of mine a fortune at the time, as the bus drivers never checked tickets), rather than leaving them with a token service and other places with reductions too





You wanted a "nationalised" railway... what did you think was going to realistically happen?

Look at how the Government of the past eleven years has treated public services and tell me that you're in any way surprised that they are looking to save money from loss making endeavours?

This is nothing to do with John Major - this is the predictable result of nationalising trains during a Government who are looking to save money

As I've said... be careful what you wish for.

It's been many years since I've called outright for nationalisation, although I do tend to disagree with those who characterise privatisation as some sort of land of milk and honey.

And when it was Arriva Northern, they were just as quick to leave routes in the lurch - remember the Settle & Carlisle during the strikes !

The compromise is that the Huddersfield - Castleford has been suspended for months while the country recovered from covid. Passengers have shown great patience and ample compromise over this time. That patience is on the verge of being abused and its high time the service was running again.
 

IanXC

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Not really a train crew problem. Its also ironic that, despite having insufficient crew to run this service, enough crew from (primarily) the same depot have been found to run the new half hourly York via Harrogate services and return Hull - Halifax to hourly from December.

In short, this isn't a crew issue - it's a question of will.

When the full service operated it was primarily crewed by Huddersfield - who don't sign Harrogate.

The half hourly York via Harrogate is primarily being achieved by an increase in York based traincrew which was underway before the pandemic.

Hull - Halifax is being restored to hourly at the cost of removing the Hull - Bridlington portion of the York - Bridlington service.

The compromise is that the Huddersfield - Castleford has been suspended for months while the country recovered from covid. Passengers have shown great patience and ample compromise over this time. That patience is on the verge of being abused and its high time the service was running again.

I don't think 'suspended' is fair, today's service has been:

2O97 0620 Wakefield Kirkgate to Huddersfield
2O62 0703 Huddersfield to Castleford
2O63 0758 Castleford to Huddersfield
2O80 1603 Huddersfield to Castleford
2O81 1658 Castleford to Huddersfield
2O84 1803 Huddersfield to Castleford
2O85 1858 Castleford to Huddersfield
 

driverd

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When the full service operated it was primarily crewed by Huddersfield - who don't sign Harrogate.

Incorrect. Split pretty 50/50 with Leeds, where all drivers in all links (bar the lowest link), sign the work. That's in excess of 150 drivers and a similar number of guards at Leeds alone to cover essentially 4 to 6 diagrams (assuming full service was restored).

The difficulty at present, I've heard, is actually maintaining the route knowledge.

The half hourly York via Harrogate is primarily being achieved by an increase in York based traincrew which was underway before the pandemic.

If all additional hours go to York, Leeds crew should have more than sufficient capacity to cover the Hudds - Cas work that can't be covered by Huddersfield crew. Infact, York could even take some extra work and leave more than sufficient capacity at Leeds, if the desire was there.

Hull - Halifax is being restored to hourly at the cost of removing the Hull - Bridlington portion of the York - Bridlington service.

Perhaps on paper but once again when you look at the crew allocations, a lot of the crew demands are not as simple as putting the Hull man that would be going to Beverley on the Halifax train, primarily because they don't sign beyond Leeds.

What I'm trying to get at here, is train crew for this route is not the limiting factor. I understand the official replies were not specific, but its certainly not due to crew associated with this route.

That is, however, not to rule out that this may be a strategic cull, if you will. It could be that removing this work frees up crew to cover other routes that are more heavily used and more resource critical.
 
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gledhill56

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What'd be an acceptable alternative?

Two units run the service hourly from Huddersfield to Castleford?

One unit does so on a bi-hourly pattern?

One unit tries to provide an hourly Huddersfield - Wakefield service and gets back in time to fit an hourly pattern (ignoring the Castleford end)?

Is there any compromise that you've be happy with? Or is anything short of an hourly Huddersfield - Castleford service going to fall short in your eyes?

Because, as I see it, pre-Covid, there were six trains an hour from Huddersfield to Leeds and seven or eight trains an hour from Leeds to Wakefield (and two per hour from Leeds to Castleford) - so plenty of opportunities to get between Huddersfield and Wakefield/ Castleford each hour - in fact, given how slow the line through Kirkgate was, it was often faster to change in Leeds between the frequent services than wait for the hourly Sprinter to provide a direct service trundling through Healey Mills.

There are no major intermediate stops on the Huddersfield - Wakefield line, so nowhere has lost its (entire) service as a result of this cut - the available units/ crews have been prioritised on busier services

Whilst I appreciate that's annoying if you live near one of the intermediate stations (e.g. Normanton), it seems sensible to focus Covid withdrawals on routes that can be axed without leaving any large places without any train service - people can still travel from Huddersfield to Wakefield/ Castleford with frequent connections at Leeds.
There is also the matter of travelling via Leeds is more expensive. Huddersfield to Wakefield has direct fare which is £2 cheaper on a single ticket than travelling via Leeds.
 

johntea

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If it does come back full time it would be useful to stick it around the :28 period from Castleford rather than 6 minutes after the Sheffield service to provide a more useful twice hourly connection to Normanton and Wakefield at least
 

IanXC

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Incorrect. Split pretty 50/50 with Leeds, where all drivers in all links (bar the lowest link), sign the work. That's in excess of 150 drivers and a similar number of guards at Leeds alone to cover essentially 4 to 6 diagrams (assuming full service was restored).

The difficulty at present, I've heard, is actually maintaining the route knowledge.



If all additional hours go to York, Leeds crew should have more than sufficient capacity to cover the Hudds - Cas work that can't be covered by Huddersfield crew. Infact, York could even take some extra work and leave more than sufficient capacity at Leeds, if the desire was there.



Perhaps on paper but once again when you look at the crew allocations, a lot of the crew demands are not as simple as putting the Hull man that would be going to Beverley on the Halifax train, primarily because they don't sign beyond Leeds.

What I'm trying to get at here, is train crew for this route is not the limiting factor. I understand the official replies were not specific, but its certainly not due to crew associated with this route.

Fundamentally nearly every depot is below planned establishment of productive traincrew, it's not an issue specific to depots that cover this route. Choices have to be made.

As you mention it Hull - Halifax is a good example, the current 2 hourly service is often full and occasionally standing. Is it better to leave the Hull - Bridlingtons running and reinstate the full Huddersfield - Castleford service, or reinstate the other half of the Hull - Halifax, broadly using the Hull resource to Leeds and the Leeds resource from there to Halifax? Traincrew diagramming is much, much more complicated than that, but to they layman that is a decent example of the current trade offs.

That is, however, not to rule out that this may be a strategic cull, if you will. It could be that removing this work frees up crew to cover other routes that are more heavily used and more resource critical.

I'm not sure we.can be confident in using the word "cull" as in a long term change but certainly these decisions represent 'strategic suspensions'.
 

yorksrob

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It of interest, how are things going with the staff training at the moment ? This seems to have precipitated the staffing shortages - is it still an issue or are Northern getting on top of it ?
 

47434

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When is this service going to come back properly ? It's months after lockdown and still these reasons are still at stupid times.

That's the problem with Northern. They'll cut services at the drop off a hat, yet it takes years for them to come back again.
What services have Northern cut at the drop of a hat?- in my time living in the north, I have generally seen an upward trend.
 

driverd

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Fundamentally nearly every depot is below planned establishment of productive traincrew, it's not an issue specific to depots that cover this route. Choices have to be made.

The issue isn't about being below establishment. It's about route knowledge. Certainly, the depots in question are floating about where they've always been (yes below establishment but not by any critical mass), it's the route learning lag thats the issue.

As you mention it Hull - Halifax is a good example, the current 2 hourly service is often full and occasionally standing. Is it better to leave the Hull - Bridlingtons running and reinstate the full Huddersfield - Castleford service, or reinstate the other half of the Hull - Halifax, broadly using the Hull resource to Leeds and the Leeds resource from there to Halifax? Traincrew diagramming is much, much more complicated than that, but to they layman that is a decent example of the current trade offs.

As you rightly say, it's a trade off. I didn't deny it. No one is denying the complexities to the current situation. All I'm saying is that train crew for the route in question are not the issue.

The real trade off being made here is crew loosing route knowledge, adding to the training backlog, because of the low number of trains operating. Personally I'd argue the case for 1 train per 2 hours through the day, just to enable crew to remain competent. Yes this would sacrifice route learning elsewhere, but given there's already a unit sat around to provide the service and relatively large numbers of crew needing route retention trips, it sits as a nice halfway house.

I make no case for the levels of demand on these services, I think we're all very aware there is low usage. The problem, as I see it, is that this service never really had chance to prove itself before covid. As a result, it was difficult to see what market it may serve. The risk is a stripped back service probably won't satisfy any real market and will likely run near empty - much the same as many bus routes - which then sets the scene for cutting the service.

In the face of climate change, this must be a backwards move. It's important for the industry to be ambitious and drive growth, proving its worth and ability to drive modal shift - in my opinion.
 

IanXC

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The issue isn't about being below establishment. It's about route knowledge. Certainly, the depots in question are floating about where they've always been (yes below establishment but not by any critical mass), it's the route learning lag thats the issue.

I'm not sure about how the link structure impacts this, but it's always been a route that only a limited number of traincrew sign, there doesn't seem to be much spare capacity, and if it has been a case of route knowledge expiring why has it not been maintained by video refresh through the pandemic?

As you rightly say, it's a trade off. I didn't deny it. No one is denying the complexities to the current situation. All I'm saying is that train crew for the route in question are not the issue.

The real trade off being made here is crew loosing route knowledge, adding to the training backlog, because of the low number of trains operating. Personally I'd argue the case for 1 train per 2 hours through the day, just to enable crew to remain competent. Yes this would sacrifice route learning elsewhere, but given there's already a unit sat around to provide the service and relatively large numbers of crew needing route retention trips, it sits as a nice halfway house.

I make no case for the levels of demand on these services, I think we're all very aware there is low usage. The problem, as I see it, is that this service never really had chance to prove itself before covid. As a result, it was difficult to see what market it may serve. The risk is a stripped back service probably won't satisfy any real market and will likely run near empty - much the same as many bus routes - which then sets the scene for cutting the service.

In the face of climate change, this must be a backwards move. It's important for the industry to be ambitious and drive growth, proving its worth and ability to drive modal shift - in my opinion.

Other than understanding why route knowledge has been lost, agreed on all counts.
 
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