Monday, 18 March 2019

2019 AGM

The 2019 Manningtree Rail Users Association AGM will be held in the Station Buffet on the 8th April at 7:30pm.  All welcome.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

15 Minute Delay Repay

Press Release from Greater Anglia dated 12th March 2019

IMPROVED COMPENSATION BOOST FOR GREATER ANGLIA PASSENGERS

Passengers on Greater Anglia are set to benefit from improved compensation thanks to a new deal signed between the operator and the Department for Transport (DfT).  From 1 April 2019, they will be able to claim compensation for journeys delayed between 15 and 29 minutes under the Delay Repay 15 (DR15) scheme.

This means that passengers, who take over 80 million journeys a year on the Greater Anglia network, will be able to claim back 25% of the single fare, irrespective of the cause of the delay. Existing  compensation arrangements already exist for delays of 30 minutes or over.  

Greater Anglia was determined to introduce DR15 as soon as possible after Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, announced in October 2016 that DR15 should be rolled out to all rail franchises.

In recent years, the company has also taken positive steps to increase awareness of the customer compensation options available, make the claims process simpler and give customers more choice in the ways that they can receive their compensation.  Customers can now claim compensation online, by email or by hard copy form. Compensation can be transferred directly into your bank account, as a credit on your credit card, by voucher, Paypal or alternatively as a charitable donation. This latter option was introduced by Greater Anglia last summer, following feedback from customers and stakeholders, and has already raised over £8,000 for the Samaritans charity.  

Rail Minister Andrew Jones said:

“Our top priority is ensuring passengers see the reliable and punctual services they expect, but when things do go wrong, it’s only right that they are compensated fairly and quickly. This is why the launch of DR15 on Greater Anglia is important news for passengers, providing them with better compensation if their services are delayed.”

Commenting on the introduction of Delay Repay 15 for Greater Anglia customers, Jamie Burles, Managing Director for Greater Anglia said :

“We’re delighted to be able to provide better compensation, with the launch of Delay Repay 15 from next month and we are sure it will be welcomed by our customers. We’ve worked in close partnership with the Department for Transport to offer this significant benefit during the existing franchise as soon as possible, meeting our customers’ aspirations to see this upgrade earlier than expected.

It’s all part of a wider transformation of train service standards in East Anglia that sees us bringing in a complete fleet of brand-new trains across our entire network over the next two years, with the first new trains due in service later this year.  We’re fully focused on improving punctuality and reliability, in collaboration with Network Rail, but customers will now be able to claim compensation for any delays of 15 minutes and over, when things do go wrong.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Greater Anglia Rail Prospects for 2019

Introduction
The area has seen a disappointing rail service with delayed, cancelled and short formed trains leading to a poor customer experience.  This, coupled with rail fares that increase in price regardless of service quality, has led to increasing customer dissatisfaction, especially at peak travel times.  
Rail fares
Regulated rail fares continue to rise every year in accordance with the retail prices index, which gives a higher rate of increase than other indices.  Compared with other European countries fares are ridiculously high, being three times those of Germany and France, and ten times those of Italy.   Since 2010, fuel price duty has been frozen, with no increases, so a 25% differential has been created.  This has made car commuting, even for a sole driver, a far more attractive proposition.
Trains
The existing rail fleet will be entirely replaced during the next two years.  Meanwhile the old fleet is worked hard.  Some trains are becoming quite tatty, and all are becoming less reliable.  Failing units lead to short formed trains, which can be a real problem during peak periods, as trains become severely overcrowded.   This sort of travel experience hardly encourages a productive day at work.  New trains have started to arrive, with four new bi-mode trains for country branch lines now delivered for testing and driver training; the first of these should enter service in May 2019.
Infrastructure
Replacement of old overhead wires is nearly complete so issues relating to sagging wires in hot weather should now be history.   However, other infrastructure issues such as power failures, signal failures and defective track have been far more frequent in 2018 than they should have been. 
Freight Trains
Most freight trains from Felixstowe are carrying containers bound for the north of England, yet repeated delays in improving the cross-country rail route mean that most of these trains use the main line between Ipswich and Stratford, where they transfer to the North London line.  It is at this point (Stratford) that these trains cause chaos to our train services. Often the trains are forced to queue up to enter the north London line (which is very congested), and in transiting they block the main line for three or four minutes, as the trains are long (30 wagons) and must negotiate a 20mph speed limit at this point.   On numerous occasions the writer has been on main line trains that have been held up for a freight train for several minutes, enough time for all the train connections to be missed.   As most connecting trains only run hourly, the inconvenience to rail travellers is very real and a strong discouragement to train travel.  Recent upgrades to the Felixstowe branch will make this problem much worse, as more of these trains will be running throughout the day.
Summary
Until the government sets aside funds for strategic rail upgrades needed to divert freight away from the Great Eastern main line, it will be very difficult to run a reliable train service.   Also, Network Rail needs to instigate a series of measures to make the infrastructure more reliable.   So although new trains will arrive during 2019, they will continue to provide an unreliable train service.
Derek Monnery
Chairman, Essex Rail Users Federation
January 2019