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October 31, 2011

Yate trains to get extra carriages

Bristol Evening Post: October 28, 2011

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Extra carriages on trains serving Yate station have been welcomed – but the pressure will remain to get even more at one of the busiest times of the day.


Six trains stopping at the station on weekdays will have an extra carriage – two of them heading to Filton Abbey Wood and Bristol during the morning rush hour.

For one commuter train, it means there will be four carriages from December – twice as many as the service used to provide two years ago.

A campaign by users and local MP Steve Webb to tackle overcrowding saw an increase to three carriages in December 2009. Now the service that departs at about 8.10am will have even more room.

But the Friends of Yate Station have questioned why the afternoon trains arriving between 3pm and 5pm will have more rolling stock when later services bringing commuters home will not.

Trains with standing room only have been a problem for years, with one of the services most complained about being the train that leaves Temple Meads at about 5.40pm.

The Friends said some trains were so full that some people could not get on at all and they have been lobbying rail operator First Great Western (FGW) to provide more carriages for years.

But the Department for Transport decides how much rolling stock to allocate and FGW had to make a bid for more capacity. The extra carriages for Yate services were announced as part of an increase for the whole Bristol area.

Mr Webb, the MP for Thornbury and Yate, said despite problems with the evening trains, he received most complaints about morning services.

He said: "The main commuter time in the morning is compressed so it's good news that there will be more space on those early peak-time trains.

"Overall, come December, it will make a huge difference. We can make the case for more capacity in the evening rush hour later.

"This is something we've been gnawing away at for some time and we had success with the extra carriage on the 8.10am service. Having four carriages on that train will be an improvement."

The Friends group said it was worried that an assessment of passenger use from Yate was not accurate, making a difference when it came to deciding which trains needed to be bigger.

Passengers can only buy tickets from a staff member at the station at certain times and with no ticket machine available, they have to pay on the train.

But on short, busy trips, the conductor often does not get to everyone and if there is also no one to pay at the destination station, passengers travel for free.

Meanwhile, efforts by the Friends have led to the installation of CCTV cameras at the station.

Chairwoman Sue Walker said: "We welcome them but now want to make sure the cameras cover all the areas of concern."

Rail workers tell ministers to stick McNulty

Morning Star: 25 October 2011 by John Millington in Westminister

Rail workers from the length and breadth of Britain swamped Westminster today at a mass parliamentary lobby to demand that the government bin its disastrous McNulty report.


An unprecedented alliance of representatives and campaigners for the RMT, TSSA, Aslef and Unite transport unions vowed to opposed tens of thousands of transport job losses, break-up of the network and massive fare rises that will be brought on by the Tory-commissioned plan.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow warned the crowd, which piled into the Methodist Hall a stone’s throw from the Commons, that McNulty’s report seeks to create a “humanless” railway with stations and set to be manned by fewer and some cases no staff at all.

“If you ask passengers what they want on the railways and they’ll tell you — they want a safe railway with plenty staff around,” he said. “Guards, buffet-cart staff and ticket office workers — that’s the people they want to see.”

Mr Crow warned that workers on London’s Tube network would mount industrial action if bosses push on with cost-cutting plans to remove the drivers’ grade.

“Driverless trains are nonsense,” he declared.

“When a Tube breaks down what’s going to happen? A member of staff will have to drive the train away, so this is simply about lowering standards and wages.”
Mr Crow said: “We won’t wait 10 years for London Underground to implement its plans.

“If they take one driver from the Tube we will shut it down and you’ll have no trains running there.

“We’re here to say — you can tell McNulty to shove his report where it came from, because we ain’t going to take it.”

Outgoing TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty reminded the crowd that nationalisation was still Labour Party policy and that the trade union movement should push Ed Miliband to campaign on that platform.

And shadow minister for Transport Maria Eagle conceded: “We were too timid when in government in tackling fragmentation of the railway system.

“We do need radical reform and we don’t start with a view that the private sector is better than the public sector.”

TUC deputy general secretary Francis O’Grady quipped: “Asking private company to run a public service is like having a man hold you by the throat while he rifles through your bag.”

The lobby also sent solidarity to thousands Bombardier workers who are engaged in a pitched battle to save train-manufacturing jobs in Derby.

RMT parliamentary convener John McDonnell urged the trade union movement to lobby Parliament, take industrial action where necessary and support direct action in communities such as the St Paul’s occupation.