Letters - December 20, 2018

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Have your say

‘We are putting 
the passenger first’

Blackpool Gazette readers will know only too well that recent train performance throughout the North and indeed, throughout the country, has not been good enough.

Network Rail knows that and recognises the part we’ve played in poor performance. Passengers expect, and deserve, better.

Andrew Haines, my new chief executive, and I also realise passengers get frustrated when their journeys over weekends and bank holidays are affected by engineering works and line closures. We do all we can to minimise disruption caused by our planned work. We carry out these huge schemes over Christmas and New Year as the railway is 50 per cent quieter than usual during the festive period. Nonetheless it will be business as usual on the vast majority of the rail network over the holidays, but some routes will be heavily affected, and we ask customers on those routes to plan their journeys in advance.

The railway is vital to Britain’s economic growth; creating jobs and building more housing. The British railway is a success - doubling the number of passengers in 20 years. Our challenge is to keep capacity growing at the same and make the railway more reliable. Maintenance, renewals and enhancements are necessary to maintain and improve our railway, first built in the Victorian era, and one that just wasn’t designed to carry 4.7m passengers every day.

This Christmas, a 25,000-strong workforce will deliver more than 330 projects as part of a £148m investment across Britain.

This summer Blackpool was served by electric trains for the first time, and just last week we were able to test electric trains overnight on the route between Preston and Manchester, further extending the electrified route.

Network Rail is committed to putting the passenger first and reversing the decline in train punctuality we have experienced in recent years. The investment this Christmas is just a small part of a much bigger plan to do just that and to help improve the underlying reliability of the railway infrastructure.

By working more closely with our industry partners and ensuring passengers are at the heart of everything we do we can go further by getting more of the basics right such as improving the speed and accuracy of our communications with passengers.

Christmas and bank holiday engineering work is a key part of that commitment, affording our engineers significantly more time than usual to make uninterrupted progress on vital projects that will help make rail services more reliable and more comfortable.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE

Chairman 
Network Rail

STRICTLY

How will BBC reward the other dancers?

I agree with Clifford Chambers (Your Say, December 18) about Strictly. The audience could clap and cheer at dancers after the star turn finishes singing.

It must be annoying for many people. I watched Stacey and Kevin win Strictly. But it was more a popularity vote as Stacey was at the bottom of the judges leader board and their Showdance was unimpressive.

I also note the BBC will be rewarding Stacey with a presenting role on New Year’s Eve assisted by Joe Sugg. As there were four finalists, I wonder how BBC One will reward Ashley Roberts and Faye Tozer (pictured) they were superb dancers? There should be fairness.

P O’Connor

Blackpool

APPEAL

It’s time the law was the changed

People who suffer psychiatric damage after the needless death or injury of a loved one must see the event ‘in real life’ in order to pursue justice for their injuries.

This law is archaic and inflexible. It was set following the Hillsborough stadium disaster, 30 years ago this coming April.

Times have changed and in these days we don’t have to ‘be there’ to witness these tragic events unfolding on our phones, tablets and televisions.

Watching a devastating event happen, when it could and should have been avoided, is traumatic for the relative. Who is to say that seeing and hearing your loved one suffer on television, in images on social media or a phone call is not as traumatic as seeing it happen at the scene?

In some cases it may even be worse, as you can do nothing to help a relative you see suffering on screen, you can only watch the horror unfold.

Psychiatric damage is more than feeling ‘a bit low’. It’s a serious, crippling medical condition. These so-called ‘secondary’ victims of negligence should not be subjected to unfair and unrealistic demands before they can be compensated for their injuries.

2019 must be the year the Government finally sees fit to bring the law into the 21st century. Such change is decades overdue.

Brett Dixon

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)

RESORT

Why haven’t we got a bus station?

As our town centre struggles to fight the threat of online shopping, could someone explain to me why i have just returned from town wet, cold and confused.

Standing around in the winter does nothing to encourage shoppers into town. Please explain to me why a town as important as Blackpool has no bus station - surely the one thing that would increase footfall and help our struggling town centre retailers.

Neal Duffy

Via email