Call for passenger compensation over Pacer trains delay

Cllr Judith Blake, Dan Jarvis MP and Andy Burnham write to Managing Director of Arriva Rail North

21 October 2019

Cllr Judith Blake (one of the signatories), Leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Lead is one of three signatories of a letter sent to David Brown, Managing Director of Arriva Rail North, on the ongoing issue of the withdrawal of Pacer trains.

The letter, also signed by Mayors of Sheffield City Region and Greater Manchester, Dan Jarvis MP and Andy Burnham, calls of a compensation package for passengers.

The letter reads:

Dear David,

Following your letter of the 9th October we wanted to express our deep disappointment and frustration, regarding the ongoing use of Pacers trains across our areas beyond 2019. This is extremely concerning news for our residents and passengers, who must be the primary focus, and who have the right to expect a reliable, quality service.

The retention of Pacers beyond 2019 is unacceptable.  It underlines the widening disparity between transport investment in the North, compared to the South. However, the alternative of withdrawing the Pacers without any alternative replacements, would be an even worse outcome. We are concerned that you are suggesting potential reductions in capacity as part of the process; our first priority remains the delivery of a reliable railway with sufficient capacity to meet demand.  As such, their retention, for a short, time limited, period appears to be the best of an extremely poor range of options.

As we are forced into accepting the temporary retention of Pacers, we expect you to commit, as a matter of urgency, to appropriate financial compensation to the passengers affected. As previously suggested, a reduction in fares on the affected routes throughout the period of Pacer retention, is the very least that could be done.

Our primary concern remains the best interests of all our residents, and your passengers, who deserve a reliable, daily rail service. We therefore insist on urgent assurances regarding the support and assistance that will be provided to those with accessibility requirements, whilst the Pacer units remain in use.

We request that a meeting is arranged between yourselves and our senior officers to secure this compensation package and provide the necessary assurance, within the next seven days.

Yours sincerely

Mayor Dan Jarvis MP
Cllr Judith Blake
Mayor Andy Burnham

Commenting, Cllr Blake said: “The withdrawal of Pacers was one of the centrepiece commitments made in the Northern franchise. The fact they will still be running in 2020 is symbolic of the broader issues with this franchise which continues to deliver an unacceptable level of service to passengers.

“Passengers must be compensated as they continue to wait for the arrival of new trains and the service they have been promised by Northern.”

Northern, owned by Arriva Rail North, previously said it was "working hard" to Pacer trains were due to be scrapped by the end of this year but Norterhn has confirmed that some would remain in use in 2020, owing to what it described as ‘manufacturing delays’ in it fleet of new trains.