Report of Emergency Public Meeting – Northern’s Proposed Service Cuts To Levenshulme And Heaton Chapel Stations

Hosted at: The Klondyke, M19

Date: 27th March 2018

Facilitated by: Friends of Levenshulme Station

Report and analysis of meeting and workshop

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INTRODUCTION

On the 27th of March 2018 an emergency public meeting was held at The Klondyke Social Club in Levenshulme, for residents and users of both Levenshulme Train Station and Heaton Chapel Train Station. This followed the news received on Wednesday the 21st indirectly (i.e. not via the official Northern route) to the Friends of Levenshulme Station and Friends of Heaton Chapel Station that services to both stations would be reduced for a temporary period starting mid May 2018. The meeting was organised and facilitated by the Friends of Levenshulme Station after having received an overwhelming responses by worried station-users, asking for answers and clarification on the proposed changes. This was exacerbated by the lack of formal and clear information by Northern. Here the discussions about the issues, the concerns and the call for action to minimise the disruption to stations’ users are summarised for everyone’s benefit and understanding.

“Over 30 people attended the emergency meeting, which was arranged 24 hours after receiving the news of the proposed service cuts. The meeting run in a workshop format where attendees responded to question prompts using post-it notes”

WRITE UP OF ALL IDEAS AND COMMENTS ON POST-IT NOTES

1. IMPACT – How does this affect you?

– Can’t get into work (or will have to use much slower and more expensive bus)
– My footfall is ignored by not having swipe station as metro link does for concession cards
– Concern it will drive more people into cars: more congestion and increased air pollution
– Will have to use bus services to guarantee being on time for work – will add 30 minutes to each end of the day = 1 hour extra per day
– I am a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease sufferer, diesel fumes are slowly killing me!
– Danger on platforms with only 2 trains at rush hour.
– Knock on effect for older people at 9.30am > crowds
– I travel on the Buxton-Preston from Levenshulme with my folding bike due to the overcrowding on the Transpennine trains. The situation at Piccadilly with any bike is intolerable

2. INFORMATION – What Information do we have?

– Temporary crowd control measures
– Existing gap: 7.44am (2 coaches) and 8.10am
– Cloth ears
– Once a service is removed it may not be reinstated.

3. QUESTIONS – What answers do we seek?

– Will any of the remaining trains go to Oxford Road and Deansgate direct?
– At what stage does Northern become clearly incapable of continuing its franchise?
– What happens to trains we have now?
– What passengers loading do they expect?
– If a train is being (temporarily) cancelled, surely, this means a saving of £££ > money to provide rail replacement buses (temporarily!)
– What form will “crowd control” take?
– Measures to control the crowd safely?
– You have to get more carriages. Why do other train companies don’t have strike?
– Overcrowding on trains or station.
– Why hasn’t the revised May 18th service timetable not been published yet?
– Take back control from foreign owned rail companies.
– What steps are going to be taken to ensure the safety of would-be passengers on already
crowded platforms between 08:35 and 09:24?
– What strengthening is planned of the 09:24 service from Levenshulme to accommodate
additional passengers?
– What arrangements are in place to deal with passengers unable to get on the 09:24?
– Have arrangements been made for rail tickets to be valid on the public bus services – specifically
the Stagecoach 192 service?
– What exactly is the timetable? As of 23 March, the National Rail website shows one down train
an hour calling at Levenshulme complete with a warning that it may not run.
– When was it reasonably foreseeable that some disruption was inevitable?
– When was the specific decision made to reduce the service and by whom?
– When and how and to whom was the decision communicated?
– How and when do you propose to advise the travelling public?
– When will the timetable return to at least its pre-May level? Can we be assured that this will be at
the earliest technically possible date?
– Does the proposed service meet the requirements of the franchise?
– Are there any other developments in the pipeline which will disrupt services to or from
Levenshulme?

4. RESOLUTIONS – What do we want?

– Use the new additional Buxton 2x/hr service for Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme for 7 months till December.
– Delay repay if you miss the train
– Shuttle trains to Stockport so people can then get a train into Piccadilly
– Can we use season tickets on buses eg. 192/197 etc?
– No crowd control
– Freight off in the day! Money matters
– Make available the new working timetable NOW
– Will trains “Alderly Edge” and “Huddersfield” going through or stop?
– Temporary rail replacement
– More carriages on existing trains
– Less service needed at minor station (eg. Dove Holes, 4,000 trips a year compared to 600,000
Levenshulme and 1,000,000 Heaton Chapel)
– Delay extra Buxton service in the timetable until December – use these resources for
Levenshulme and Heaton Chapel
– Need rail replacement not Crowd Control
– Allow train tickets to be used on buses, e.g. 192
– Reduced fare during the time (of service cuts)
– (some of) the trains that pass through Levenshulme are half empty, they could stop more carriages from half-empty services to busy services
– Can through trains make stop at Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme during this time?

5. ACTIONS – Who do we contact to be heard?

– TfGM
– Andy Burnham
– Influence Andy Burnham – IRONY about Green Summit. Trains most efficient solution – so
reduction in service is MAD!!
– ALL FM radio
– Contact Sunday Politics North West programme
– Contact Local BBC and ITV
– Manchester Confidential?
– Contact local press and news especially if there is a protest
– Co-ordinate and focus tweets so we can ‘trend’ then promote the same to the MEN
– Ann Coffey MP
– Afzal Khan MP
– Community Branch of Unite and RMT (allies)
– Local Green Party / Friends of the Earth may advertise posters
– Alex Ganotis – Stockport Leader of the Council
– Identify businesses and public sector organisations/ MCC affected (in theory or actual) by
workers not getting into work and lobby them to contact Northern and get involved
– Contact other areas affected by electrification problems and Carillion going bust
– Try and interest local radio in this story
– Seek letters of support from other local groups: Levy Market; Levenshulme Traders;
Levenshulme Festivals; Levenshulme Community Association; ALL FM etc
– Nusrat Ghani of DfT
– Let’s get ALL FM on board – Vox Pop or on air? How are people affected “platform blues” etc
– Chris Gray links to Transport Secretary
– DfT: They could cancel timetable change until Network Rail completes their projects
– Use the web to identify other stations with the same issues – now or historically and seek advice
on their experience

6. ACTIONS – What should we do as a group?

– Start a petition
– Enemies of Levenshulme Station (Northern? Network Rail?)
– Take video/photos of Reddish South, Ardwick, Denton stations and use them to warn via social
media. Don’t let them (Northern) do this to Levenshulme Station
– Ask major local employers, e.g. Salford and Manchester Universities, BBC to put pressure on
Northern
– Demonstrate each week between week after Easter and 18 May
– Sing/ Fancy Dress / Cosplay outside the station (is on platform legal?) “Three is not a magic
number”
– Bicycle convoy on the A6 (happy to lead this)
– Get the Levy Uke group to make a song/ crowd song, + get it on YouTube/ Twitter/ Facebook/
Link to MEN etc
– Working with Trade Union RMT etc
– Protest at station targeting Northern Rail (or better)
– Ask people to sign if they want more or less trains (comment by S. – 7 years old)
– Co-ordinated twitter campaign (and signs about this at the station) (is it allowed?)
– Protest on trains start at Stockport station – then protest on trains and stations right into
Piccadilly
– Noisy demos, blockade?
– Day of protest?
– Invade the tracks (last resort) (note by FolS: this is illegal and very unsafe. Not a possible option)
– Regular demonstrations
– Token poll for morning passengers: Two buckets; Happy or not happy with reduction in service
– SLUG: Convene and campaign at Station at Levenshulme User Group (SLUG)
– Piccadilly protest
– Poster campaign
– Opportunity for publicity? When the Kurdish community is brought to court for closing down
Piccadilly station for 2-3 hours there may be an opportunity to air our grievance with Northern/
Arriva
– Chaos causing Protest: car convoy? Instead of catching the train, one day only get everyone
who can to drive their car, one person only, in giant convoy on A6 f rom Levy Station – Piccadilly,
lots of publicity
– Short Twitter/FB videos less than 30 seconds “Stories from the station” targeting Northern etc –
Positive and appreciative of service with a “please don’t take our trains” message.

7. OUTCOMES – Our chosen action plan (initial list)

– Protest day: Cycle? At Piccadilly? Outside HC and LVM stations? Start at Stockport, get off at
HC, get on train, get off at LVM, get on train, finish at Piccadilly? Hand out leaflets too?
– New leaflets and posters
– Email to all attendees with list of Twitter and Key contacts – coordinate a twitter campaign!
– Organise PR
– Residents/ Stations users action group (LVM and HC united)

Conclusions

The meeting lasted one hour and discussions proved very useful and effective for those who attended, to feel empowered in organising themselves into a new group: The Levenshulme and Heaton Chapel Rail Action Group. This is a separate group from the Friends of Levenshulme Station and Friends of Heaton Chapel Station. It is made up of local residents and rail users of these two stations, who feel most affected
by the proposed cuts to Northern train services. A separate mailing list and social media platform will be set up to enable further discussions and actions led by the group.
The Friends of Levenshulme Station and Friends of Heaton Chapel Station will continue their work supporting the improvements of their station’s environment.

If you would like to download  a copy of the report, you can find it March 27th 2018 FoLS Emergency Meeting Report

If you would like to support the newly formed group – you can find them on Facebook group here

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