Holy Island, 2015

A Northern Wake-Up Call: IPPR North Report Confirms Westminster Failings

How COVID-19 has intensified inequalities in Northern England

This week, IPPR North’s report The State of the North has confirmed what many Northerners have known since the height of Thatcher’s term in office. With Brexit and COVID-19, the North-South divide has grown dramatically – to a point that the gap between South East England and North West England could be akin to that of West Germany and East Germany prior to reunification.

Before last week, one of the few things that set Northern England apart from the South East of England was consigned to history forever. If you wanted to know where the North of England really began, it was at the most southerly terminus of a rail service that was served by Class 142 Pacer units. With franchised buses as part of a fully integrated transport system, Greater London feels like another planet compared with Greater Manchester.

Continue reading “A Northern Wake-Up Call: IPPR North Report Confirms Westminster Failings”
Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge, 11 October 2009

What Has the North Done For Us?

Quite a lot to be honest!

Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge (widescreen)
The iconic Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge

Imagine a world without Northern England. It would be a dull place devoid of The Beatles, iconic suspension bridges, daft footballers, and railway lines. Prior to the late 1970s, we were the manufacturing heart of the world. We built bridges, ships, made cutlery and built the world its locomotives and carriages. Today, most of what manufacturing capacity we had has been eviscerated by London-centric governments and globalisation. Prior to the mid 1980s, we kept most of our country’s power stations ticking over and our houses warm, before they closed down the pits and started importing its coal.

Continue reading “What Has the North Done For Us?”

Can You Have a Full Yorkshire Picnic?

Feast of the M60 asks if you can have an all-Yorkshire picnic

With relatives on both sides of the Pennines, I could claim dual nationality status if in the unlikely event that Yorkshire secedes from Westminster rule. Thanks to the lockdown and yours truly not having left Greater Manchester since then, a strange thought occurred to me: “Could you have an all-Yorkshire picnic?”

Continue reading “Can You Have a Full Yorkshire Picnic?”
Durham Cathedral Square

Can You Get From Westminster to Durham By Bus?

If you have any sense at this moment in time, the answer should be ‘No’

The list of places associated with disreputable goings-on with present and previous Conservative governments have grown in the last five years. There are now enough places to muster a Best of British coach tour. Till last week, we had a suitable coach operator with the hotels and pick up points to pitch a possible inclusive tour.

Continue reading “Can You Get From Westminster to Durham By Bus?”

Northern Nationalised: Franchise Transfers from Arriva Rail North to DfT

Northern franchise taken over by DfT as Operator of Last Resort from the 01 March

After several rumours and persistent lobbying by Northern English political figures in the last six months, it was announced today that Arriva lost its Northern rail franchise. Under the Anglo-German company’s tenure, the rail franchise was dogged by poor service, delayed rolling stock deliveries and gross overcrowding.

Continue reading “Northern Nationalised: Franchise Transfers from Arriva Rail North to DfT”
Stalybridge Station, Yorkshire platform and Buffet Bar

Tameside Train Timetable Changes, 15 December 2019

Stalybridge sees restoration of Liverpool to Scarborough express service

From Sunday [15 December], Stalybridge will regain its direct link with Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough. Before May 2018, Stalybridge station was served by an hourly service from Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough via Warrington Central and York. Since the infamous May 2018 timetable changes, this was discontinued with the service being partially replaced by two skip-stop trains from Manchester Piccadilly.

Continue reading “Tameside Train Timetable Changes, 15 December 2019”

Shepherd Group Youth Brass: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club, 08 December 2019

Hard working York youth band put on fantastic show

Hours before they came to Boarshurst Band Club, the Shepherd Group Youth Band held a concert in Selby Abbey. Courtesy of one of York Pullman’s finest coaches, they were on the M62 motorway whilst yours truly was enjoying his Sunday Dinner.

Continue reading “Shepherd Group Youth Brass: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club, 08 December 2019”
Northern Class 195, Manchester Airport

Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For

Or: is the Grayling Curse to blame for Northern’s woes?

The rail franchising system is dead. Long live the rail franchising system. In the last year, we have seen a recasting of the rail franchising system in favour of management contracts. Since 1994, rail franchises in Great Britain have mirrored former British Rail profit centres, which in turn have roots in BR’s sectorisation programme by Sir Robert (Basil) Reid.

Continue reading “Should Northern Rail Be Nationalised? Be Careful What You Wish For”

Packed Pacer Problem Solved for 2019 Deadline

East of the M60 EXCLUSIVE: Nodding Donkeys become beautiful bi-modes with revolutionary technology

  • 10-car Pacers set for DDA compliant overhaul;
  • New breed of Nodding Donkeys go electric.
40 more years? Imagine these units, only five times longer, with a pantograph, a steam funnel and a tender.

Set to carry on for a longer period of time than the UK’s Brexit negotiations is the fate of Northern’s Pacer units. Due to disability legislation, the much-maligned family of diesel units were scheduled for withdrawal in 2019. In reality, the delivery of Northern’s replacements have delayed the Pacer family’s withdrawal. So much so that one of the units scheduled for inclusion in the National Railway Museum’s collection is still in service.

According to reports from an informed source, East of the M60 can confirm that the Pacer family of units will be seeing continued service for another 40 years.

Continue reading “Packed Pacer Problem Solved for 2019 Deadline”

Skipstopageddon: Reading Between the Lines on Tameside’s Train Torment

How an incomplete timetable – and more besides – have caused chaos for Tameside and Saddleworth rail passengers

Everything looks good on paper. Last month we looked at how radical changes to our train timetables would have affected Tameside and Saddleworth passengers. Our overall verdict was that the timetable was unfinished. We said it should have been enhanced with the retention of an hourly all-stations service. We also suggested that Stalybridge should have been given a stop on Transpennine Express’ service from Liverpool Lime Street to Newcastle Central. Continue reading “Skipstopageddon: Reading Between the Lines on Tameside’s Train Torment”