Manchester’s cultural leaders hit out at ‘appalling’ rail services in letter to Government

A letter signed by Manchester's cultural leaders has been sent to the government this week, lamenting our failing trains and the impact that this is having on Manchester's post pandemic recovery
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The letter, addressed to Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper, outlines the impacts poor rail services are having across Manchester’s cultural sector.

Pre-Pandemic, tourism and the arts in Greater Manchester had a combined economic benefit of £8.4bn.

But failures across the board on our railways, means this is in danger of shrinking.

The letter notes and thanks the Government for their support during Covid-19 and lockdown, and concedes that the industry has faced unprecedented challenges.

It then takes fire at the rail operatives ‘serving’ Manchester and the adverse affect this is having on post pandemic recovery.

The letter states: “We are writing to you as additionally we are experiencing continuing major impacts on our businesses caused by the appalling services provided by train operators ‘serving’ our region.

“Our audiences, staff and business partners are experiencing significantly reduced timetables on Westcoast Mainline, Trans-Pennine Express and Northern services.

“These reduced timetables are unreliable, subject to last minute cancellation, often overcrowded and dirty.

“Furthermore, the Westcoast Mainline services are not bookable until the last minute and are significantly more expensive.

“The one thing that is consistent across all our rail services is that they are completely unreliable so we are seeing many of our staff and customers returning to road travel which in turn is increasing congestion and negatively impacting on the environment.”

The letter goes on to outline the specific impacts on the business (to name but a few) including: audience no-shows because of cancellations, cancellations of recruitment interviews and disruption to staff who commute to the centre of town for work.

It adds that a failure to get service functioning properly will see a ‘long-term negative impact’ on post pandemic recovery and undermine already stagnant economic growth.

The letter reads: “If we ran our businesses as badly as the rail services in our region we would be closed for good.

“We believe that this level of rail service and consequential economic damage would not be tolerated by the government if it was being experienced in London.

“The up-coming festive season is absolutely vital to our business models so this situation cannot continue and we therefore urge the government to take immediate action to ensure that we have a rail service that meets the needs of our region.”

The letter was co-signed by:

Dave Moutrey, Director & CEO HOME, Manchester & Director of Culture for Manchester City Council Tamsin Drury, Director, hÅb & Word of Warning Liz O’Neill, CEO & Artistic Director, Z-arts Bryony Shanahan, Joint Artistic Director/CEO, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester John Hodgson, Associate Director (Curatorial Practices), John Rylands Research Institute and Library, The University of Manchester Helen Wewiora, Director & Artistic Director, Castlefield Gallery Chris Wright, Executive Producer, FutureEverything Stella Barnes, Creative Director, Community Arts NorthWest Bob Riley, Chief Executive, Manchester Camerata Julia Fawcett, Chief Executive, The Lowry, Salford Joseph Houston, Artistic Director, Hope Mill Theatre, Roddy Gauld, Chief Executive, Octagon Stephen Freeman, Executive Director/ joint Chief Executive, Royal Exchange TheatreEsme Ward, Director, Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester Robin Hawkes, Theatre Director, Manchester Palace & Opera House Lindsay Taylor, Curator, University of Salford Art Collection Fran Healey, Artistic Planning and General Manager, The Stoller Hall, Manchester Shaun Hinds, Chief Executive, Manchester Central Convention Centre Sheena Wrigley, Venue Director, Factory International, Manchester Keisha Thompson, Artistic Director/CEO, Contact, Oxford Road, Manchester

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