MP speaks up for ‘sardine’ commuters

COMMUTERS FROM Saddleworth’s only railway station are travelling like “sardines in a can” claims Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams.

P10 Debbie Abrahams
Debbie Abrahams MP

Ms Abrahams made the accusation when she questioned Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons.

She pressed the minister on whether some of Northern Rail’s diesel stock may be transferred to TransPennine Express (TPE) to supplement the gap left by an earlier stock transfer from TPE to the Chilterns Railways.

She then asked him: “What guarantee will the Secretary of State give my constituents that the transfer will not happen?”

Mr McLoughlin replied: “What we have set out to do is match, where we possibly can, the growing passenger capacity with the availability of the railway network.

“A huge amount of new rolling stock is coming on line in the next few years. I hope we will be able to relieve some of the initial problems the honourable lady has mentioned.”

Following the exchange Ms Abrahams said: “Telling commuters squashed together like sardines day after day new rolling stock is coming in the next few years is little consolation and shows a complete lack of forward planning by the government’s transport department.

“The Government have just extended the Northern Rail franchise until 2016. It is disappointing they didn’t use that opportunity more effectively and improve the quality and capacity of rolling stock.

“There is little clarity on how this will improve for Saddleworth commuters,” she added.

David Wheeler, a member of the campaigning Greenfield Rail Action Group (GRAG), said: “If we had more services, for example two per hour, then this would alleviate the problem.

“Greenfield has shown one of the largest rises in passenger numbers over the last ten years, and may it continue,” he declared.

Cllr John McCann said: “I am pleased our current MP has realised the terrible travelling conditions for those wishing to use our peak time railway services.

“It is a long standing problem of lack of investment and foresight by central government over a long period with current proposals not offering solutions to local travellers.”

Meantime, major timetable changes came into place last month for rail users at Greenfield Station.

The times of almost all trains running through Greenfield have changed, and an earlier service into Manchester Victoria has been introduced.

Mark Ashmore, chairman of GRAG, said: “We will continue to campaign for a 30 minute service throughout the day as well as later last trains, particularly at the weekend.”

For more detailed information pick up a timetable from Greenfield Station.