TfW user group meeting April 24

We attended a user group session with TfW in April.
It was a three hour marathon with many senior reps there. They handled many questions via the chat system and most things got covered. They committed to going back to answer other points. Some speakers were very clear and readily understood. Others mumbled through their bit clearly not suited for public facing.
This was a national event so there was a lot of local stuff being injected, but TfW handled it well. At the end there were break out sessions by region, and we were able to get a few local points in.
The main points for us were
MK4 trains. They have 5 of the 7 sets at five cars, and the other two will follow shortly. The reliability is improving steadily, with most rains working 4 diagrams daily. They want to increase this to 7 daily and provide a 2 hourly Manchester Cardiff and west service. Reliability problems have been carriage door buttons, software, and loco availability. All this will release 197s for other duties. They know that substituting a 2 car 150 is not a good move.
230 units on the Bidstone line. The reliability is improving, and they want the 197s back for other duties.
153s HoW Four units are in Landore for conversion to active travel special units.
197 46 units in service, with reliability getting there, but still not where they want to be. 16 of these are 3 cars, and the next deliveries will all be 3 cars. 2+3 car services will follow these deliveries.
Colin Lea on timetables. On Marches line the numbers of 2 car trains is dropping with a steady increase to 3, 4 and 5 car sets. They have done a deal with drivers. They showed a summary for many lines, but not ours. I asked for such a summary. I asked for confirmation that the shuttle will be two car. They could not confirm, didn’t know. There is a new draft timetable for Dec 24 and a consolation to be completed. I asked for feedback on the last consultation and a promise of feedback on the next. No response.
On stations, the Whitchurch access improvement is part of a package that will go to DfT later this month for funding. They have some design work done based on adding lifts to the existing bridge. NR will probably do the work. Tactile paving will be installed on all stations this year. CCTV will be fitted to Whitchurch and Shrewsbury stations. There will be more branding and cleaning done this year. I asked that user groups be told about station improvements before they happened.
User engagements. Rick Fisher. He was talking about the importance of local engagement to find out what local customers need. He sounded like a good contact point.
Turnbacks at Wilmslow. This got some heavy criticism, with staff at Piccadilly if there, not know what is going on, inaudible announcements on platforms etc. Avanti are not happy about carrying passengers to Crewe in this situation and want them to go on Northern, when they probably miss the connections. TfW to look at.
I asked what was being done to improve the local daily stopping services, and this was a big impediment to passengers getting out and back. Also about a late evening train from Manchester. I was referred to the DfT TfW agreement package where TfW are not allowed to change England only services. This needs think about. They can introduce Chester – Lime St services if they want??
Overall I though it was a good session. TfW controlled it all so that one group did not hog the time, and there was enough time for reasonable questions. Above all I came away knowing there is plenty for CASPA to be doing.
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