RAIL Union RMT has claimed detailed information in the Northern Rail franchise documents confirmed that 30-year-old tube trains withdrawn from service on London Underground, currently undergoing refitting to diesel operation, could be dumped on railways in the north.
That is in direct contradiction to last week’s announcement that new franchises for rail services across the north will see significant investment resulting in better connections, faster journeys and more room for passengers on peak-time trains.
The RMT said the news exposed as “complete fiction“ public statements from Government ministers that there are no plans to use the ageing, decommissioned underground trains on the main railway.
Rail North, representing local transport authorities across the region, has worked with the Department for Transport to publish a new invitation to tender for the Northern and Transpennine franchises to start on April 1, 2016.
Last week’s announcement proposed to replace outdated Pacer trains; introduce a brand new fleet of modern trains; tackle crowding; invest in stations; and add over 200 new train services every day across both franchises.
The Northern franchise will run for nine years with the option of a one year extension.
The TransPennine franchise will run for seven years with the option of a two year extension.
Under the terms of the DfT tender documents, bidders may propose the use of “metro-style” rolling stock (ie old London Underground trains) that allows 0.25 square metres per standing passenger, rather than the 0.45 square metres generally assumed on the railway.
This is just over half the amount of room allowed for passengers on the rest of the railway.
The union claims that these new “high density” carriages on Northern, with standing areas to “include door areas and vestibules, corridors and aisles” are a means of introducing a third class onto the services: “within a multi-vehicle unit formation there may be a mix of standard and “metro-style” configurations”.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Despite all the spin and bluster from Nick Clegg and his Tory puppet-masters we now know that passengers across the Northern Rail routes are being set up to pay through the nose to travel in half the normally acceptable space in what amount to clapped-out and unsafe sardine cans.”