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Northern Mayors demand fare freeze on Northern and TransPennine

The Mayors of Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester, Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham, have today (Monday 13 August) written to the Secretary of State for Transport to demand a freeze on rail fares, ensuring that northern passengers are not hit by proposed fare rises on Northern and TransPennine services in 2019.

The Mayors’ call comes after a summer of chaos on rail routes across Greater Manchester and the North, with the travelling public facing frequent delays and cancellations after a botched timetable change in May.

Traditionally future rail fare increases are set using the July rate of RPI, which is published in August and come in effect the subsequent January. This year the July rate of RPI is expected to be announced on, or around, August 13th.

In their letter to Chris Grayling, Mayors Rotheram and Burnham and say:

“Over the past few months travelling by train in the North has become a lottery, where passengers turn up at stations with no idea if there will be a train or whether they will arrive at their destination on time.

“This crisis has caused real damage to the North – the current estimate is that at least £38m has been lost from the economy – and has led to many commuters turning their backs on using the train and seeking other means of getting around.”

The Mayors argue that a 2019 fares freeze is proportionate given the disruption on both networks over the past few months and the delays in planned service upgrades. They also believe a freeze could help attract back passengers to the railways who have been put off by recent disruption.

Speaking about the letter, Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotheram, said:

“After a summer of misery – and with cancellations and disruption still continuing – introducing higher fares next year would be a huge slap in the face to the travelling public here in the North.

“With service improvements postponed until May 2019 and no guarantees from the rail operators that they can sort out the current mess anytime soon, it would be wrong to ask people to pay more, for less.

“Whilst we push for the issues to be sorted out – and they must be sorted out – we must also look towards rebuilding confidence in passengers to return to the railway. Freezing fares could help do this. It would also be a strong signal from the Secretary of State that he is on the side of passengers and I urge him to agree to our demand.” 

On Sunday 12 August rail operator Northern cancelled 80 services, including trains on the Liverpool to Manchester Airport line used by families and others travelling to and from summer holidays. It was the third successive week of similar Sunday cancellations.

Additional analysis demonstrates that passengers into Liverpool will be expected to pay on average £110 more per year for an annual season ticket, £91 for those travelling from Southport and across key routes into Manchester city centre stations passengers can expect a £45 increase.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

“The rail industry has caused real misery for thousands of passengers across the North. Not only have people lost time at work or with their families, they have had to shell out for taxis, extra childcare and even hotel bills because of the continuing disruption.

“To ask these long-suffering passengers now to pay even more for a poor, unreliable service is to add insult to injury. A freeze in the current fares is the very least that passengers deserve.”

Andy added:

“The Secretary of State has a chance to show people in the North that he is listening to their concerns and is ready to do the right thing. I hope that he takes it and works with us to support passengers who have already had to put up with far too much.”

The demand is the latest in a series of interventions by the Mayors which has seen them call for compensation for passengers affected by disruption and back TFNs call last week for the Government to appoint a trouble-shooter to get to grips with the ongoing crisis.

Platform Upgrade Work: Merseyrail getting ready for 2020

Transport leaders have announced a programme of platform upgrades designed to prepare the Merseyrail network for the arrival of the new, state of the art trains in 2020 that will transform how people travel.

The phased programme of upgrades will take place between 20 October 2018 and 16 June 2019. These vital works, delivered by Network Rail, will involve upgrading existing platforms and realigning track to ensure that they are compatible with the new trains and their ground breaking, sliding step technology that will provide unassisted access for all.

This means that wheelchair users can board the train without a ramp and passengers with prams and cycles can get on and off the train with ease. This technology represents a pioneering approach for the UK.

There will be 11 phases of works during this period. Only short sections of line will be closed at any one time, with all stations on that section closed. Closures will vary in duration, but most will be between nine and 30 days at a time.

High quality, rail replacement buses will get passengers to where they need to go as quickly as possible and some of these will be express services.

Merseytravel, Merseyrail and Network Rail have worked collaboratively on this project and significant planning work has been carried out to minimise the time needed to complete these important works and reduce disruption to passengers.

More detailed information will be made available in advance of each phase and travellers will be encouraged to plan ahead and consider their travel options including commercial buses and the Mersey Ferries.

Businesses and organisations are advised to think about what they may need to put in place to support staff and customers.

Key advice:
• You can still get to where you need to go
• Check before you travel. Closures are taking place at different locations at different times on the network so it’s important to keep checking what’s happening and when. Some timetables may change.
• Plan ahead – use journey planners and National Rail enquiries
• Leave more time for your journey. Timetables may change and your journey may be longer.
• Consider avoiding travelling at peak times where possible.
• Consider your options –including commercial buses and the Mersey Ferries.

For more information and further details about how your rail journeys will be affected visit www.merseyrail.org/itshappening

Businesses booming thanks to InvestSefton funding

Two Sefton businesses that have benefited from European funding and local growth hub support along with assistance from InvestSefton and Sefton@Work were recently visited.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, along with support staff from InvestSefton dropped in to Morgan Hope Industries Ltd and Immersive Interactive Ltd to see how both businesses are booming.

Morgan Hope Industries Ltd, based at the Blowick Industrial Park, Southport manufactures, supplies and installs lighting and electronic energy control systems, which reduce energy consumption.

InvestSefton has assisted the business by helping them tender for public sector contracts, and linking them to support and commercial opportunities through the Liverpool City Region.

Also on the agenda was a trip to Immersive Interactive Ltd who are based on Princes Street in the town centre.

The company offers futuristic learning spaces which can be used in both mainstream and special needs education establishments and simulation training for the emergency services.

The local business was supported by InvestSefton through grant application work.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “Getting out and visiting local businesses is a great way to see how the support offered to them has enabled them to grow and move forward.

“Both businesses have been supported by InvestSefton and Sefton@Work and it is great to see local companies doing so well and expanding in their respective fields.

“Success stories like these really show how Sefton is open for business and supports our local companies.”

Peter Salt, from Immersive Interactive Ltd, said: “Our initial inquiry was in relation to the purchase of new premises in Southport and our advisor, Colin Hickey, guided us successfully through the Merseyside Growth Fund application.

“Since that initial experience Colin and Invest Sefton have become an integral part of Immersive Interactive’s success and progress, with both sound advice and networking opportunities. I would recommend any SME to take advantage of this fantastic resource.‘’

Stephen Fisher of Morgan Hope Industries Ltd, added: “We design and manufacture our range of lighting products in house as a bespoke solution, with savings of up to 80% achieved.

“Saving energy and reducing costs is important for businesses, and we have developed valuable new commercial opportunities in the Liverpool City Region, through working with InvestSefton.”

Southport firm Cumfybus to run Park & Ride services

Sefton Council is delighted to announce a brand new partnership with Southport company Cumfybus to run the town’s Park and Ride service.

Running from the Esplanade, through the Town Centre and to the Southport Eco Centre, at just £2 per car, the regular 10 minute loop service is incredibly popular with tourists, shoppers and commuters alike.

Cumfybus will run buses specially equipped with hybrid technology to reduce emissions and compliments Sefton Council’s action plan to help minimise the impact of of air pollution across the borough.

Cllr John Fairclough, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Locality Services, said: “This is a fantastic partnership with a local Southport company who have hit the ground running and are already offering a great service.

“The eco friendly busses which run every ten minutes are actively combatting air pollution and helping keep our borough clean, green and beautiful.

“We are delighted to be working with Cumfybus and we are confident that people who use the facility will be really impressed with its value for money and how quick and efficient the service is.”

“We would also like to place on record our thanks to Arriva who previously ran our Park and Ride service for many years.”

Cumfybus Managing Director, Marshall Vickers, added: “As a Southport company it gives me great pleasure to be operating the Park and Ride service in the town and we are delighted to be working in partnership with Sefton Council.

“To be able to use two of our fleet of Eco-friendly hybrid buses is the icing on the cake.”

The service runs from 7.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 6:30pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

The Sovini Group is first housing group awarded Gold for supporting the Armed Forces

Sefton-based Sovini Group the Gold Award, their highest honour, in recognition for the Group’s outstanding support of the Armed Forces community.

The Sovini Group is the first housing group in the country to be awarded Gold since the scheme’s inception in 2014. The accolade follows their Bronze Award win in 2016 and the Silver Award in 2017.

The ERS recognises employers who actively support Reservists, Service leavers, wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, the Cadet organisations and service families, as well as inspire other organisations to follow their lead.

The property management and development group has long standing relationships with the Armed Forces community. They work in close partnership with Army Reserve unit 156 Regiment RLC and local organisations, Liverpool’s Veterans HQ and Veterans in Sefton, providing ex-service personnel with housing, training and employment opportunities.

A recent initiative between The Sovini Group with Veterans HQ has led to six local veteran families being rehomed and saved from homelessness since the start of 2018.

The company offers a volunteer placement programme, which supports veterans with their transition from the Armed Forces into employment within civilian life. Some of those who took part in the programme have gone on to get jobs within the Group, such as at Sovini Trade Supplies in Aintree.

The Sovini Group also employ a number of Reservists and provides tailored support including an additional 10 days leave for training and unlimited unpaid leave if they are mobilised.

Dr Roy Williams, CEO of The Sovini Group said:

“It’s an honour to be the first housing group to achieve the Gold Award. By adopting the Armed Forces Covenant we help to make sure the people who make huge sacrifices on our behalf receive the recognition and support they deserve in the workplace and the wider community”

Private Tracy Newman, Customer Empowerment Officer, The Sovini Group said:

“The Sovini Group has been fantastic from the very beginning supporting me in my Army Reserves journey. The flexibility they have given me has been invaluable. When I talk to other Sovini staff during Armed Forces partnership events I see real interest from colleagues and going forward I hope to encourage more staff to get involved.”

Tobias Ellwood, The Minister for Defence People and Veterans said:

“The breadth and diversity of this year’s winners shows how business support for the Armed Forces continues to flourish. Their commitment is a testament to the fantastic contribution our serving personnel, veterans and their families can make to any organisation. We all have a role to play in ensuring that the Armed Forces community is not disadvantaged by service, and each of these employers is a setting an example as meaningful advocates for those protecting the nation.”

 

For more information about The Sovini Group, visit sovini.co.uk

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