Fewer, but longer, passenger trains may be the way to improve service punctuality on some routes in the north of England, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has suggested.
Poor punctuality and reliability has plagued services in the north of England in recent years but WYCA officers have reported that both have improved markedly during the Covid-19 restrictions because fewer trains are on the network.
“While this would be expected, it does underline a point that has been made since at least the May 2018 timetable collapse and has become more voluble: that the railway is, under ‘business as usual’, running with more trains than its current infrastructure can reliably cope with – and that there is a case for the ‘fewer but longer’ principle on some lines,” said officers.
“This will not be relevant everywhere – the combined authority would not wish to see services below two trains per hour at any West Yorkshire station – and it cannot be a substitute for urgently needed investment in trains and infrastructure. [But] There may well be cases where this principle could be applied effectively in our region, as services gradually are rebuilt after the lockdowns.”
Meanwhile, the idea of reducing train frequencies in Greater Manchester has been backed by rail think tank Greengauge.
“Issues such as the overload and unreliability on the Castlefield corridor in Manchester [Deansgate to Piccadilly] may be solved in the short-term – say the next two years – simply by leaving out some pre-Covid timetabled services,” it says in its response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s call for evidence on rail plans for the Midlands and the North.
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