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Thursday late night bus replacements again 18-21
10 February: Reduced service with only Buxton trains
On 7 February the RMT union announced that they have
suspended their strike action, after successful talks
with the management and ACAS and an agreement to have a
conductor on every train. Full details of the
conductor's role are to be the subject of further
discussions, to let's hope a satisfactory solution is
arrived at. Some other companies now have the driver
opening the doors and the conductor closing them - one
possible solution, which also avoids the conductor being
left behind on the platform, but we have no detail about
what exactly is proposed.
It's noticeable that the RMT have used the term 'Guard'
in all their pronouncements, although the official title
has been 'conductor' for some years.
8 February 2019
We have received the following message from Davenport
and Cale Green councillor Dickie Davies:
Ward councillors have held meetings with council
officers about traffic and related issues on Oakfield
Firstly, concerning traffic calming matters, a set of
plans have now been produced. These will be circulated
to all residents on Oakfield, Elmfield and Beechfield
roads in the very near future. Further you will be
invited to a drop-in consultation event which will take
place on 28th February.
Secondly, enforcement officers have promised to step up
visits to Creative Apparel. This will include monitoring
of loading/unloading and issuing of, where appropriate,
tickets. The temporary planning consent for the
containers is due to expire in June. So far no
application has been made to extend the temporary
application or to move the operation to another
location. The situation will continue to be monitored.
We appreciate that residents have produced significant
evidence of unacceptable loading activities at the site.
However, enforcement officers have asked for details of
peak times when loading and unloading talks place on the
pavement. This is to target their visits to the unit.
Yours, Dickie Davies
7 January 2019
Jolly Sailor reopening confirmed
Some good news is that Almond Family Pubs have confirmed
officially that they have taken on the 'Jolly Sailor'
and will be refurbishing it, with an enlarged dining
area at the rear and various other improvements, for
re-opening in 'Spring 2019.' Here is a link
to their announcement
and here's a link
to their planning proposal
which has been granted
by the Council. Almond are known for their carvery style
of operation, but they assure us that there will also be
a choice of other meals, and also an area reserved for
The building was built in 1895 for the Daniel Clifton
brewery to replace a smaller pub, built in the
traditional style in the 1790s; the image above dates to
26 January 2019
over Edgeley reservoirs, January 2019
Year - Another Strike
As the Saturday strikes drag on into 2018, we do wonder
whether when anyone is going to resolve this dispute.
Northern now say they have again asked the RMT union for
take part in an independent inquiry, while the RMT
become increasingly aggressive:
RMT members across Northern Rail are
standing rock solid and united again on this 45th day
of strike action as the company ploughs on regardless
with its plans to throw guards off their trains and
resorts to a barrage of complete misinformation aimed
at the travelling public over their clear intention to
introduce widespread driver only operation.
Some members, we suspect, welcome the relief from the
anti-social behaviour sometimes seen on Saturday trains.
The managers who are required to 'voluntarily' act as
guards, on the other hand, must be running out of
patience. Northern, for their part, repeat that the
Department for Transport have agreed that every train
will have a 'second person' on board to help and advise
passengers, sell and check tickets and so on, while the
driver, aided by cameras on the outside of the train,
controls the opening and closing of the doors. This
promise, which the RMT say is 'lies', is a softening of
the original requirements of the Franchise which allowed
for trains to run with just the driver if for any reason
there is no second person available.
Of course, there are no cameras on the outside of our
existing trains, and it's doubtful whether there can be,
given the very small space for the necessary screen in
the driving cab of some of them. The new trains which
are soon to be entering traffic - class 195 diesels and
class 331 electrics, do have this feature but can also
be worked in the traditional way. However,
although they are promoted as replacing the unloved
'pacer' units, the diesel trains are unlikely to appear
on the Buxton line soon, although it is possible
that an electrified Hazel Grove - Blackpool service
might appear in May 2019. Our feeling is that 'Driver
Controlled Operation' on our line can not appear until
the Class 150s, built in the 1980s, are replaced
by new trains after 2025.
The difference between the two sides in the dispute,
apart from the doors, is - we understand - the amount of
training and responsibility required to be a traditional
guard, which includes the need to be familiar with the
stations and other features of the line being worked.
Like drivers, they 'sign a route' and cannot be used
flexibly across any route. Guards also have training in
'safety critical' matters related to what to do in an
accident, train failure, or similar situation.
Passengers may need to be evacuated, and possibly action
taken to prevent a collision should a train derail or
worse. A broken-down train might need to be rescued by
These are, of course, very rare events, and even more
rarely does the driver become incapacitated, but it does
happen. We are not offered any information by Northern
about the role of the 'second person' in such cases;
perhaps at least they will have an emergency phone
number to call.
RMT with their frightening website videos make much of
the other aspect of safety, the personal safety of the
passengers during the journey. However, in theory,
the 'second person' freed from the need to work the
doors will be a better position to reassure passengers.
But, like the current guards, they are not going to be
in any position to disarm a frenzied knife attacker or
bomber. Many of our four-car trains don't even have a
way for the guard to access the front two coaches while
the train is moving.
At the root of all this is, of course, Government money.
The franchise runs until 2025; currently the company
receives around a quarter of a billion pounds per year
to add to fares revenue. The franchise agreement
requires that by 2025 this must be reduced to somewhere
near £50 million, while running more train services. How
is this possible? Partly by paying less money to the new
'second person' grade, and partly by needing fewer
people because of the greater flexibility. But we have
yet to discover how much money the drivers' union will
demand for the extra responsibility transferred to their
members. The company directors say they are
guaranteeing that the existing guards will retain their
jobs and salary until the end of the franchise in 2025.
And we must bear in mind that local trains mean nothing
a very large proportion of taxpayers.
RMT paints the owners of Northern, the German State
Railway, as 'profiteers', but published figures suggest
that, at best, they can hope to achieve a 2% profit
margin. It's not surprising that the Government is
finding it increasingly difficult to find operators of
[The above is a personal view - any factual corrections
22 January 2019
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