After promising train passengers in the North of England a ‘world-class rail network’, earlier this month, the government has U-turned on its promise to scrap the highly unpopular Pacer trains – also known as ‘cattle trucks’ – admitting that they may be now be ‘modernised’ and used for another 10 years.
Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, who has previously complained in Parliament about her constituents being treated like ‘sardines in a can’ on Northern Rail trains, said: “This is an appalling U-turn from the government who have only just promised to provide the north with a ‘world-class rail network’ and a stinging embarrassment for George Osbourne who has claimed his vision for the north is that it should be ‘a powerhouse of the economy’!
“I’m not sure how 30 year old ‘cattle trucks’ trundling up and down northern railways fits with the Chancellor’s vision of an economic powerhouse!
“Commuters will be left incredulous by yet another example of broken promises and incompetence from this government illustrating a contemptuous attitude to the north.
“As I said in my response to the TransPennine Express and Northern Rail Franchises’ consultation, investing in better quality and more railway carriages is imperative in order to meet growing demand.
“There is evidence of the number of carriages being reduced recently, making commuting periods in particular very cramped, with passengers often forced to stand. This must be addressed.
“Better rolling stock would encourage more people to use the network but, from speaking to constituents, they say they know they’ll have to stand on certain services so do not use them.
“Greenfield station falls within my Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency and is a very well-used station with rising passenger numbers. The last figures available from 2012 to 2013 show the total number of passengers using the station was 331,068 compared with 306,426 in the previous year.