GREENFIELD Rail Action Group (GRAG) will still fight for improvements to local services and trains despite considerable changes to public transport use due to Covid-19, insists chairman Mark Ashmore.As a result of the pandemic, the government has advised the country to use public transport, including trains, for essential travel only and instead to travel by car, bicycle or on foot.
This has seen many usually overcrowded trains replaced by almost empty carriages with just a few passengers.
But Mr Ashmore says despite fewer people travelling by train, GRAG will still continue to push for better services at Greenfield.
“As Chair of GRAG I have been asked a few times what I thought were the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for its future activities,” he explained.
“The pandemic will have a massive long-term effect on the rail service nationally and this will greatly affect how GRAG campaigns in the future.
“What will not change is GRAG’s original main goal of getting a better rail service at Greenfield station. The need for two trains per hour and the reinstatement of a direct service to Victoria and Salford remains a priority and, in many ways, has become even more of a necessity as working hours are adapted to cope with the need for social distancing in the workplace.
“During GRAG’s ten-year existence, good working relationships have been formed with the Train Operating Companies and in particular TPE.
“We have ensured our local MP and local councillors along with Transport for Greater Manchester and Transport for the North have all been kept up to date about our concerns and goals.
“We have also formed good working relationships with the rail user groups at Mossley, Marsden and Slaithwaite, which has enabled a united front when confronting the rail organisations.
“With the vast changes caused by the pandemic, such as the effective nationalisation of all the train companies, the reduction in the number of services and the massive reduction in passengers, not to mention the amazing improvement in train reliability and punctuality, the role of GRAG will be very different in the future.
“Working from home along with staggered start and finish times are likely features for commuters.
GRAG will have an important role in monitoring how these changes affect passengers and ensuring the needs of local passengers are communicated to all the rail bodies.
“The need for a rail user group has definitely not gone away and our work is far from finished.”