Tuesday, 29 January 2013

MRUA To Lobby The ORR For Investment In Local Rail

Following on from the East Anglian Rail prospectus published last year, Greater Anglia has asked over 200 interested parties to lobby the government for greater investment in the region's railways.  The prospectus was prepared with input from county and district councils, user groups and Greater Anglia themselves and is possibly the first time all interested parties have been calling for the same thing!

Specifically, interested parties are being asked to look for investment in three particular areas:

  1. Improvements to infrastructure to allow for faster journey times on the Great Eastern Mainline and West Anglia routes
  2. Additional track to the north of Chelmsford - ideally long passing loops parallel to the existing tracks in the vicinity of the proposed Beaulieu Park station
  3. Extension of the third track from Stratford to at least Angel Road and ideally Brimsdown on the West Anglia Route

As a contributor to the original prospectus the MRUA will be lobbying the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for the necessary investment to achieve these aims.

To view an ITV Anglia news item on this please click here.

Weekly Seasons - Advanced Purchase

There is a strange ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies of which Greater Anglia is a member) ruling that says Weekly Season tickets cannot be purchased in advance - something you are able to do with other types of ticket.  However it seems that in certain cases staff can override this restriction.  Have you ever been refused such a ticket when trying to purchase one in advance?  Perhaps you could let us know please at info@mrua.org


Sunday, 27 January 2013

Discount Ticket For Couples

Greater Anglia has launched the Duo ticket to mark the end of regular weekend engineering work, which has seen bus replacement services operating on The Great Eastern line on Saturdays and Sundays for some years.

The Duo is available from all mainline stations south of Manningtree, including Colchester, Clacton, Harwich, Braintree and Chelmsford.
It can be used when two adults buy a super off peak day return. The second adult’s ticket is charged at half the usual price.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Disabled Access At Manningtree - Progress?

The MRUA has been campaigning for a considerable time now to get disabled access at Manningtree Station improved.  Passengers transferring between platforms 2 & 3 can only do so via the subway which itself can only be accessed via steep, narrow stairs.

Those less able, parents with buggies and those with heavy luggage often struggle to negotiate these stairs without assistance and in some cases have to be escorted across the tracks by staff.  This problem has been exacerbated by the decision to all but stop direct services between Harwich and London thereby requiring passengers from Colchester and London to change platforms to get the connection to Harwich.

The MRUA has canvassed both district and county councils, together with Greater Anglia (and NXEA before them), Network Rail and Passenger Focus to get cross platform access improved.  We are encouraged therefore that Tendring District Council is at last in contact with Greater Anglia to progress the matter with the Community Leadership Partnership Committee taking responsibility.  We hope for swift progress now contact has been established.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Manningtree Parking Charges - Correction

Following on from the article yesterday is now appears that Manningtree parking charges are to stay the same.  Other stations are affected - for example Colchester goes up from £6.60 to £7.20.  Apologies for the confusion.

Greater Anglia In U Turn Over Harwich Connections

Greater Anglia have withdrawn their plans for not holding Harwich trains at Manningtree should a connection be running late.  They have now agreed to hold trains for up to five minutes.

The decision to not hold trains was met with incredulity by most and has led to Passenger Focus and Bernard Jenkin MP calling for the decision to be reconsidered.  Common sense has prevailed but sadly the decision to not hold trains has done the reputation of Greater Anglia much harm.

Any future statistics on train punctuality improvements will be taken with a pinch of salt as it may be that trains elsewhere on the network are being run to ensure good statistics rather than good passenger service.  Something to bear in mind next time you're thrown off an Ipswich bound service at Colchester so the train's return journey is not delayed.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Station Car Parking Charges To Increase

Greater Anglia have announced that car parking charges are to increase in February by an average of 6.2%.

You may remember that GA's predecessor, NXEA, outsourced parking at Manningtree, and other car parks, to NCP.  This ludicrous arrangement continues with Greater Anglia and made worse by the fact that NCP use yet another company - RingGo - to do the ticketing for them.  Such an inefficient way to run any organisation will inevitably lead to greater charges with at least three companies trying to make money on the deal.

Greater Anglia have said that they continue to invest in their stations and services for the benefit of their customers.  It is not clear that many customers will have seen these alleged benefits with their trains looking tattier by the day and performance statistics apparently taking priority over providing an actual service to their customers.

It is sad to report that Greater Anglia really seem to be no better than their predecessors and we really didn't think it could get much worse than NXEA.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Great Anglia To Review Connection Policy?

Following on from a complaint lodged by the MRUA, Passenger Focus have confirmed they have asked Greater Anglia to review the connection policy announced last week regarding trains to Harwich.

Watch this space...

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Rail Minister Takes The Car

There has been much coverage in the media over Simon Burns MP choosing to take the car to work rather than the train.  Mr Burns is MP for Chelmsford but also the government Rail Minister.  If ever we needed proof that the rail service in this region isn't good enough then this is surely it.

Neil Skinner, Chairman of the MRUA, is featured in this Guardian article on the subject.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Statistics Over Customer Service

Passengers at Manningtree Station may have noticed a poster on the subway wall advising us all of the fact that from 7th January Harwich Branch services will not be held for late running connecting services.

This will ensure that trains on the Harwich branch will run on time, even if they're empty, thereby making the reliability figures look good.  If you have the misfortune to be on a late running connecting service then sadly you will have to wait.  This is an extraordinary decision to take, especially as there is so much padding in the existing Harwich branch timetable.  An indication sadly that Greater Anglia is more interested in reliability figures than providing good customer service.

This is clearly a decision taken by the company and not locally so please bear that in mind before taking out any frustration on the station staff.

The one Show Would Like To Hear From You!

The BBC one Show would like to hear from anybody who has taken up alternate measures to combat the ever increasing cost of travelling by train.  Walking or cycling perhaps? Buying strange ticket combinations to reduce cost?  Anything at all to get round the price increases.

If you are interested in talking to them please contact Phil Holmes at The one Show on phil.holmes@bbc.co.uk