Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Tim Farron demands investigation after Avanti locks passengers in deserted station

Jealous of all the publicity the privatised power and water industries this week, Avanti North West have done its bit to put the railways back on the front page.

Last night passengers got of a late-running train at Oxenholme to find the station locked. Some tried scaling the seven-foot palisade fencing to gain their freedom: others looked for somewhere to sleep.

And one person had the best idea of all: ring Batman Tim Farron. The Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale got Network Rail to come and unlock the station exit.

BBC News reports: 
Mr Farron has demanded an investigation and said the incident was "just a further example of the failures by Avanti" which raised the question whether the firm was "fit and proper" to run the franchise. 
"We have seen a mass of cancellations of Avanti services, failures in the reservation systems, and now a locked station," the MP said, adding: "There are clearly systematic failures going on at Avanti and we cannot let it go unchecked. 
"What happened... could have very quickly become dangerous and I have already written to Avanti to demand an explanation for their oversight."
Avanti North West are clearly having huge problems. They have unilaterally slashed the number of trains they run and can't honour even that reduced timetable.

If they don't turn things around and quickly, then they should lose their franchise.

You may think that's unreasonable, but if you do it shows the railways can't be treated as just another consumer industry.

The baroque structure that privatisation created had to be replaced, but it was replaced by control from Whitehall. 

We need to put railway professionals back in charge. And if that means nationalising the franchisees as they come up, then so be it.

The best answwer, however, may be to allow Tim Farron to run the railways himself.

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