The Colne-based Liberal Democrat Peer, Lord Tony Greaves, has spoken at the House of Lords, calling for the Government to provide “a proper rail service” for the people of Pendle.
Listing a string of incidents caused by trains to Brierfield, Nelson, and Colne simply not turning up, Lord Greaves bemoaned the unreliability of the services in the area, saying: “The problem is the number of trains that simply do not turn up.”
With passengers having provided accounts on Facebook of cases in which both young and old had unfortunately been inconvenienced by the capricious rail services, Lord Greaves told people’s “tales of woe” involving passengers abandoned in Burnley at night and people being seriously late to work and university.
Lord Greaves called on the Government to “put pressure on the new franchise to make sure that it provides a proper rail services to people in the Pendle area who want to use it,” and that “If trains do not turn up, people will not use them!”
Insisting that the latest official figures showed that the usage of the three Pendle stations had gone down in the period from 2012 to 2015, Lord Greaves said that in addition to “ordinary reasons such as staff not turning up,” there were additional issues with the service.
“From where it leaves the main line over to Yorkshire at Gannow Junction in Burnley, the line is just an eight-mile-long single-track siding that ends at the buffers in Colne station,” he said.“There is one train an hour.
“If a train to Colne is late or if the previous train was late and is still blocking the siding the train turns back at Burnley.
“Passengers are left on the platform at Colne, Nelson, and Brierfield,” he continued. “Incoming passengers are turfed off the train at Burnley and left to their own devices.”
Lord Greaves went on to suggest a possible solution, explaining that in the medium term it needed the reinstatement of the passing loop at Nelson station “which British Rail in its stupidity took… away”.
In the short run, he said that Northern must “take its responsibilities seriously and put on replacement transport… buses, mini-buses, taxis, or whatever.”
Lord Greaves was speaking in a short debate on railways reliability initiated by his Liberal Democrat colleague, Lady Randerson.
In reply, the Government Minister Lady Sugg said she had “certainly got the message, and we will take up his concerns with Northern Rail, including the need for bus substitution.”