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MPs and rail user groups give cautious welcome to improved rail network performances

Furness independent MP John Woodcock (left) chairs the meeting in Ulverston this afternoon (Friday)

MPs and rail user groups gave a cautious welcome to improved rail network performances when rail bosses addressed the community in Ulverston today (Friday).

Independent MP for Barrow and Furness John Woodcock praised Northern Rail’s progress under new leadership as he chaired the Cumbria Better Connected campaign group met at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston yesterday alongside Westmorland and Londsdale MP Tim Farron.

After a previous 12-month period that was littered with strike action, cancellations, hold-ups, excuses and thousands of unhappy customers, Northern Rail regional director Christopher Jackson unveiled a set of improved reliability figures to local rail experts,community representatives and members of the public.

Mr Woodcock said afterwards: “I think we can give a cautious welcome to the improvements and the prospect of brand new carriages coming onstream in May.

“There have been delays to the new rolling stock coming into operation, but it was encouraging to hear from Northern that driver training is ongoing and that bodes well for the new trains to be running when the May timetable goes live.

“There have been improvements in reliability over recent months and long may that continue, but we have been promised all kinds of things before so our campaign group will continue to monitor the situation and connect with the public until the service is running as smoothly as it should.”

On Wednesday Mr Woodcock and Mr Farron were among a number of Cumbrian MPs who held a meeting with new rail minister Andrew Jones to take stock of the situation.

“The minister has a strong sense of enthusiasm for the brief,” Mr Woodcock added, “we talked about the strike and it is clear that he changed the parameters to make the fresh talks happen between RMT and Northern.”

Dialogue between the union, the employers and the Department for Transport is continuing at the conciliation service Acas with former TUC chief Sir Brendan Barber playing a key role.

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