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What our customers are telling us


Cheeky chuffers chilly challenge

j a n u a r y 2 012


SLaivye Say


Winter driving


Your questions answered

and much more...

your sneak peek

regular news and views on everything northern

upfront J A N U A R Y 2 0 12

Dear colleague, We were absolutely thrilled to see that our operational performance received a tremendous boost and exceeded all targets for this time of year – a PPM of 88.02% is a franchise best for this time of year during a period where our performance is traditionally challenged with the onset of autumn.


he unusually good weather has certainly helped us to deliver this fantastic performance but our thorough planning and autumn mitigation measures have almost certainly played a part. It’s a welcome boost to our overall performance but we can’t allow ourselves to be complacent with this result as there are still areas where performance can be improved, both internally and externally.

Piccadilly and we were delighted to take him round the depot, show him all the hard work that goes into getting trains ready for our customers and introduce him to colleagues including our apprentices working on the trains. Earlier in the month we also welcomed the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, when he came to the North West as part of a trade delegation for

the Netherlands. He travelled on our train from Wigan Wallgate to Manchester Victoria which gave us an excellent opportunity to talk to him about the successes of Northern and one of our parent companies, Abellio, which is based in the Netherlands. And finally, the current economic climate has meant we had to take the difficult decision not to issue Christmas vouchers but we do want to thank you all for your hard work, commitment and enthusiasm this year, making Northern such a success and a fantastic place to work.

Overall we regained our industry position of being marginally ahead of the national MAA – we have achieved 90.83% against an industry figure of 90.6% which is great news. We welcomed a very important guest at our Newton Heath depot this month. We accompanied the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on a cab ride in one of our trains from Manchester

With very best wishes to you and your family for the festive season,

YOUR COVER STAR Tim Greenhalgh from Bolton


Steve Butcher meeting the prime minister

Ian Bevan

Chief Operating Officer Managing Director



performance dashboard fleet

� In the

past month...

Reliability improved again this month despite problems with our Class 323 and 333 fleets, which achieved a lower miles per casualty (MPC) score than we would expect. What we’re really pleased about, though, is that through your hard work, we’re now in a position where individual Class issues do not affect the improvements we’re making to the overall MPC figures.


� Fleet reliability (miles per casualty) � In the

� Presentation

6,000 6,500 7,000 MILES PER CASUALTY



� Days availability NOVEMBER DECEMBER 0 1 2 3 4 5

customer service We’re delighted that the score for the way we present our stations was better than last month because at this time of year scores often suffer due to leaf fall. The work you’ve done with ISS, our cleaning provider, to make sure we all stay focused on cleanliness has certainly paid off. As for our train scores: well they’re not only better than last month, they’re an improvement on last year too.



Our performance received a tremendous boost this month and we delivered excellent service for this time of year: a franchise best for this particular month. Our autumn planning certainly played a part in these results and we are once again better than the industry average. However the real winners are our customers, because more of our trains got them to their destinations on time.

6,665 miles

MPC MAA 5,000

past year...

6,784 miles


6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 DAYS

safety Safety performance was really good for the month with all but one of our measures being below target. The one cause for concern is employee accidents, which was higher than expected. It’s important that we all take care while we’re working to make Northern a safer place for everyone. worse than target

our target

on target

better than target

91 90 89





� Employee

87 86









� Failures to call and SPADs

84.5 DEC





� Customer













10 11 12 13 14


northernnewsround C U S T O M E R

Cleaner trains for customers To improve the cleanliness of our trains for customers we’ve taken a two-pronged approach: reviewing our cleaning equipment and checking that the chemicals we use are suitable; and training all colleagues to deliver the standards we expect. To help with this training we’ve commissioned a DVD about the 38 tasks we complete and you can read more about this on page 21. We’re also trialling new carriage



Cable theft

N E W S . . .

Safer train evacuation

Most of us will probably have been delayed at some point by cable theft. Northern is one of the worst affected train companies and so we’ve joined an industry-wide e-petition which has been set up to keep pressure on politicians to reform scrap metal legislation. We need as many people as possible to sign it because when it attracts 100,000 signatures a parliamentary debate will take place to discuss the issue. If you want to help reduce cable theft, please ask as many people as you can to sign the e-petition at http://epetitions.

4 / january

washer brushes and chemicals. Initial results are good in terms of improved cleanliness and we’re sure customers will soon be benefiting from cleaner trains.

We’ve been looking at the way we transfer passengers and colleagues from train to train when evacuating them from a stranded vehicle. As a result we’ve decided to stop using the on-train ramps until a risk assessment has been completed.

Winter weather So far our winter preparation has gone really well and to make sure we keep our trains working throughout any bad weather, we’ve set up defrosting bays at each of our main depots. We’re looking to see if we can do the same at Hull Botanic Gardens and Allerton too.


N E W S . . .


Last month we delivered over 1.1 million special offer leaflets to households across the north of England.

Improved reliability Earlier this year we suffered reliability problems when some of our trains broke down due to drive shaft problems. In an effort to improve reliability for our customers we introduced a number of measures to solve the problems and we’re pleased to say that they were successful.

Getting ahead Historically, autumn generates a high number of complaints from customers who experience disruption due to leaf fall. This year we were really proactive and made sure our fleet was prepared well in advance of any adhesion problems and we’re pleased to say all your efforts have paid off. Disruption was kept to a minimum and complaint levels are low.

The aim of this campaign is to promote our Duo ticket on specific routes into some of the major towns and cities we serve. The leaflet also highlights our partnership with the promoters of Hugo, the new 3D Martin Scorsese film, and gives customers the chance to O T H E R

win a trip to Paris by simply registering their details at Over 40 money-saving vouchers are included too, with offers from wellknown brands such as McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, Subway and Manchester United.

N E W S . . .

More space for extra customers We recently invited media representatives to an open day where we explained what we’re doing to secure additional carriages for our customers. It gave us the opportunity to introduce the media to one of our newly-arrived Class 322 trains and highlight how we’ll soon have extra capacity on some of our services. We also took them on a tour of Allerton Depot to show how we’re getting ready for our additional carriages.

C u l tura l

Quicker journey times We’re delighted to say the Government has announced £8.8m of funding for the reinstatement of the Todmorden Curve. This will restore a link that closed in the 1960s and will allow direct trains to run between Burnley and Manchester. It will reduce journey times between East Lancashire and Manchester, encouraging even more people to use the rail service. O T H E R

N E W S . . .

Working mums We recently took part in a Working Mums event at Manchester, which attracted women looking for career opportunities, advice on CVs and guidance on job applications. Our stand was really popular and the Recruitment Team spoke to nearly 200 women about job opportunities within Northern. Surprisingly many of them didn’t realise the range of roles we have, and we changed a lot of perceptions about Northern and the rail industry as a whole. The day was a great success and we successfully raised the profile of Northern as a local employer amongst people who wouldn’t normally have considered working on the railway.

Award-winning cycling We’re pleased to say that at the recent ATOC cycle-rail awards we won the Partnership Working category, Ian Hall from our Commercial team was crowned Rail Cycling Champion of the Year and Leeds CyclePoint scooped the Innovation of the Year title. This is great recognition for our programme of cycling activities and the industryleading initiatives that we continue to deliver for our customers. JANUARY / 5

northern newsround

Christmas offers


Because ut we always p them first!

r e m o t s cu

what our customers are telling us

what our customers

are telling us This month we thought it might be interesting to tell you what our customers are saying to us – well at least from the viewpoint of our Customer Relations team.


he chart to the right is one that we provide to our Executive team and to our key stakeholders.

Last Year

This Year




Train Service Performance






Timetable & Connections









Retail Issues












Quality Issues
























Damaged Clothing






DDA Related






Bus Related






Car Parking






Complaints Handling (2nd letters)










Complaint Calls






“Here to Help” Cards used


2,237 0.9%

57 543

-435 2.5%

33 225

You’ll see that we separate the number of comments we receive into sub-categories, each of which has a target – we measure the number received against the targets and then apply shading to help us see at a glance where we’ve met our targets and where we need to improve. We use the term ‘comments’ on purpose because they are not always complaints, and it’s vital that we learn from every single one. Most of our customers’ comments relate to whether or not their train ran on time. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is because our customers are entitled to a refund in such circumstances – this is true to a certain extent but many customers only want to point 6 / january

out the delay without a request for compensation.

Retail Issues and Employees make up the next most significant statistics and it’s important to understand that these aren’t necessarily complaints about our people; often it’s something as simple as a question about our policies or procedures.

Thanks to you!

Here's a selection of the lovely lett ers our customers have recently sent in because they've been delighted with the service you'v e given them...

The next most significant is overcrowding, and this is the only figure that is significantly worsening year on year. Last month, overcrowding on the Cumbrian Coast line again caused a significant increase in this category but crowded trains are an issue wherever they are, and it’s an issue that hopefully our new units will address. Finally you’ll see that we monitor letters of praise too and we will always send you and your manager a copy of praise comments about you – and you’ll be pleased to know that this is also an automatic entry into Northern Stars. We hope that you’ve found this useful – please don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Relations Team if you need more information.


Re : Absolute asset “I found myself on the wrong train leaving Manchester Piccadilly and Conductor Alistair McMeechan went above and beyond the call of duty to arrange for us to get to Romiley station ahead of the train we needed. He showed great initiative and commitment to looking after us as customers and can only be described as an absolute asset to your business.” writes Miss K J

We do have a duty to follow up direct complaints about a colleague’s alleged actions or inactions, or their behaviour towards our customers. In every case we will always take a neutral position until the colleague involved has had a chance to put his or her side of the story. A very interesting point to make here is just how low this number is, especially when you consider the vast number of communications with customers that took place last period, and that we only received 186 adverse comments about them.


Re : Extra mile “I’d like to say thank you to the guard on the 18.27 Outwood – Doncaster service last night. He noticed I’d left my suit carrier on board at Doncaster and found me in the station to return it. This saved me having to buy new clothes and was really appreciated. Please pass this feedback to him and thank you for going the extra mile for a customer. Excellent work!” emails Mr S D

Re : Winning ticket “I won a ticket for two to travel for a day on Northern Rail and I’d just like to thank you. Both my partner and I had a fantastic day; we visited Liverpool, then on to Blackpool to see the illuminations. We went on the ferry in Liverpool thanks to the two for one voucher I printed from your website. We really had a lovely day.” emails Miss D L

Re : Getting home

Re : Good value

“Imagine my dismay when my train home from Workington was cancelled; I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do or where to go, but that was all before Conductor Marilyn Allison came to my help. She was very sympathetic, reorganised my travel and I got home safely.”

“I would like to say I’m really pleased with the service provided by Maggie Beevers at Leeds Travel Centre. She recommended a service that was good value for money and was happy to answer all my queries. Maggie has truly given me a memorable experience.”

writes Ms M S

writes Mr A D


talking customer

Interestingly, we see an increasing number of comments from customers expressing their displeasure at very short delays of two or three minutes as they’re not used to them. This wouldn’t have happened even a year ago, and it just goes to prove that as our train service performance goes up, so do the expectations of our customers. More than anything else it demonstrates the importance of our Challenge 94 project and right time departures.

you! it’s all abo ut

Cheeky chuffers chilly challenge | World Aids day | movers & shakers | northern stars

Cheeky chuffers chilly challenge Maggie Whitaker, Safety Business Partner and Emma Hind, PA to Safety and Assurance Director, plan to raise money for Barnardo’s by driving a sledge from northern Norway to the heart of Lapland and they’d love you to sponsor them.


t’s a difficult challenge and the 250km journey will see them spending up to 14 hours a day sledding. Every evening they will need to put up their tents, tend to their huskies and make dinner before finally getting some sleep in the minus 25 degree temperatures.

They’ve chosen Barnado’s because of its 400 projects around the UK which help over 100,000 vulnerable children and their families every year. Emma and Maggie have set themselves a target of nearly £8,000 for this worthwhile charity. They’ve already raised almost £6,000 with previous activities, including raffles, bucket collections, a charity gig and even a naked calendar, but they’ve decided to keep their clothes on for this latest chilly venture. Now they need your help to reach their target. If you want to sponsor them visit Emma-Mags-Huskytrail2011 and pledge your money.

8 / january

� World Aids Day Our Northern Awareness Train commemorated World Aids Day on one of our York to Blackpool services. Earlier this month our awareness train displayed a specially designed ‘header board’ featuring a Red Ribbon and our Northern logo to commemorate World Aids Day. We’re the first train company to do this and with the help of Renaissance, a Lancashire-based charity, we provided awareness information and sold red ribbons on the journey. On arrival at Blackpool North station passengers were greeted by a large crowd who had come to show their support for the special day. A 12-foot Red Ribbon balloon

northern people

A big Northern welcome to our new colleagues... � Luke Bennett, Train Presentation Operative, Neville Hill

Your Northern Stars for October are...

� Yonas Tesfay, Train Presentation Operative, Neville Hill

Albert Barrett, Salford Central Station

� Lindsay Marsden, Communications & Marketing Executive, York � Daniel Hebdon, Conductor, Leeds � Charles Bramald, Conductor, Leeds � Alexander Brook, Conductor, Leeds � Harriet Martin, Conductor, York � Amy Mudd, Conductor, Skipton � Chris Mollij, Conductor, Leeds � Sophie Acton, Conductor, Leeds � Andrew Parkinson, Conductor, Leeds � Kerry Oakes, Menston Station � Jamie Johnson, Fitter, Allerton depot

When a customer found some money by the TVM at the station, he handed it in to Albert. After checking the CCTV footage to see if he could track down the owner, Albert immediately recognised the person who had dropped it as a regular customer and so he waited until he saw the gentleman again and returned the money to him. The customer couldn’t praise Albert highly enough for his actions.

Ian Brewster,

Ian was on his way to work when the busy train he was on developed a fault. He went to see what the problem was and quickly fixed the fault so that the train could continue on its journey and our customers weren’t delayed or inconvenienced. A true Northern Star!

Ruth Davies,

red ribbon balloon statue

Electrician at Neville Hill

Customer Relations team

Ruth was on her way home on a busy train. The previous train had been cancelled and some customers were anxious for information including a lady who was unsure which train she needed and a disabled customer who wanted help to leave the train at Saltaire. As she could see the conductor was busy at the other end of the train, Ruth calmly and professionally dealt with the enquiries, helped the lady find the right train and also assisted the disabled customer off the train when it reached Saltaire. The judges were so impressed with her compassion and thoughtfulness that they couldn’t fail to give her a Northern Star.

Ray Manners, Barrier team at Leeds statue, created by Renaissance, provided the perfect backdrop for the closing ceremony of poem reading, prayers led by the Railway Chaplain and singing. Our Diversity, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Ambassador, Paul Lavenne, organised the event and we’re delighted that so many people joined us.

An argument between three men in Leeds station became violent. One of the men suffered serious injuries and at great risk to himself Ray intervened to break up the fight and took the man to safety before calling an ambulance and the BTP.

Highly commended Northern Stars: � S teve Scott, driver from Manchester Piccadilly

�G  raham Platt, conductor from Blackpool

The £25 voucher prize draw winner, chosen at random for nominating a colleague, was Simon Crabtree, from Newton Heath depot.




n i t h g i f

e m i r con our network

Since 1 April this year we’ve successfully convicted 1,309 people and here’s a handful of stories about the 131 successes that we’ve had in the past month... Phil Cook Head of Debt Recovery and Prosecutions (DRPU)



fined £550

When a customer asked for a half-fare ticket the retail supervisor asked to look at her half-fare pass. The young girl quickly flashed a scholar’s photo-card but, after asking for a closer look, the supervisor noticed it had been altered and told the girl he was withdrawing the pass. She then accused him of being racist as she left. We were able to trace the 20-year-old girl and at court she was fined £550 for attempted fare evasion and anti-social behaviour.

A man at Leeds station went through the barrier directly behind another passenger without using a ticket. When he was stopped and asked to produce a ticket he said, “Get out of my way before I get angry”. He was asked why he hadn’t purchased a ticket and simply said he’d thought he’d risk it. The risk taker was fined £550 and given a criminal record, all for a £1.65 fare.


Our car parks are for rail users, so when station colleagues saw a man park up and head off into town they issued a Penalty Parking Notice (PPN). When the man came back he returned the notice and swore at the supervisor. The supervisor asked him not to be so abusive and was greeted with the same response. As the man drove away he said he wasn’t going to pay the PPN, and true to his word, he didn’t. When we traced him we charged him with the parking offence and abuse. At court he was fined £195 and did pay.



When we heard about two passengers who regularly travelled beyond the validity of their zonal season ticket and only paid the additional fare when challenged, we investigated what was going on. After identifying the two passengers, we compared how long they’d been buying the zonal season tickets with how long they’d been living at their present address. It then became clear the ruse had been common practice for a long time, so we charged them.


10 / january

fined £550



At court the two pleaded guilty to the offence of ‘over distance travelling’ and were both fined £200 for the £3.30 fare evasion and one of them received even more bad news when he was immediately dismissed by the law firm he worked for.

British Transport Police

fighting crime


I’m Inspector Chris Smith, the British Transport Police Officer seconded to Northern to help you tackle crime on your network.


Banning order for Leeds ‘fan’ After a football game between Middlesbrough and Leeds, a Leeds supporter pushed past a police cordon at the railway station and then hit and kicked a Middlesbrough supporter before running away. When BTP officers found out who he was they contacted him and he was charged with assault. Although he pleaded his innocence, just before the trial he changed his plea to guilty. As a result, he was given a four-month home detention curfew, will not be allowed into a football ground for three years and was ordered to pay £200 costs.

Unconscious An ambulance was called when an unconscious man was seen lying under the platform at Bramley station. Trains were stopped and colleagues went to help the man. It turned out that he was a known alcoholic and had fallen asleep under the platform. When colleagues and the ambulance crew tried to coax him out he threatened to throw himself under a train, so he was arrested and taken to hospital for medical and mental health assessments. We later charged him with railway obstruction with bail conditions that he must not enter any rail station or rail track in West Yorkshire.


Planking BTP officers investigated a film posted on Facebook, which showed two young lads appearing to lay in the track whilst a Northern train passed over them, yet there had been no reports of the incident by any driver. However, our investigation found that the film was a fake. The lads were identified and their computers were found to contain other images of themselves in different life-threatening situations. They said they were simulating the internet art of ‘planking’ (lying down in an unusual location). Both of them have been reported for trespass and we’re working closely with local schools to educate young people on the dangers of playing on the railway.

Update We’re investigating the assault of a conductor at Bredbury station, where an assailant pushed him down before running off. BTP officers searched local pubs but without luck, so CCTV footage has been requested and we hope to identify the attacker soon. When a drunken couple got into an argument with colleagues at Manchester Piccadilly the woman lashed out. Fortunately there were no injuries and she was immediately arrested. After sobering up in the cells the woman admitted the assault and was very apologetic. She had never done anything like this before, so after speaking with the victim we decided a caution was the best way to deal with the incident.

J A N U A R Y / 11

Each year, our services generate over £650 million of benefits for the north of England.

the value of

Northern O

ver the last seven years we’ve had an extraordinary journey, establishing a Northern culture which is reflected in our values and branding.

Through everyone’s hard work and innovation, combined with our strong ethos of partnership, we’ve attracted over £100 million of external investment and Serco and Abellio, our parent companies, have invested £30 million. This £130 million has been used to improve our trains, stations and services. Together with dramatic improvements in punctuality and reliability the massive investment has helped us to attract a staggering 38% more customers since the start of our franchise.

12 / J A N U A R Y

From day one, we’ve focussed on delivering consistently good local train services for our customers. However, we’ve always been aware that our services have also brought a lot of economic, social and environmental benefits to local communities. We asked an independent firm of consultants, Arup, to find out just how much we contribute. Arup looked into a variety of areas, including the role that we play in local economic growth and environmental benefits, and they estimate that our services generate at least £650 million of economic and other benefits for the north of England. This means that for every £1 of subsidy received we generate approximately £2 of benefits.

Over £650 million of benefits for the north Rail-user and non-user Journey Time Benefits £164.2m (25%) Tourism Impacts £352.0m (54%) Economic Value of Productive Time £4.5m (1%) Carbon Benefits £11.0m (2%) Safety Impacts £6.6m (1%) Direct Employment Benefits £113.0m (17%)

To help our customers, we’ve taken a structured approach and targeted the main areas we know will make a difference. We know that the UK road network is becoming more congested, leading to environmental problems and worsening journey times so we’ve increased the number of seats available for commuters to Leeds and Manchester. We’ve introduced new services across our network and improved others; in December 2008 our Leeds – Nottingham services began and we improved train frequency on the Calder Valley line between Leeds and Manchester Victoria from two to three trains an hour.

We’ve introduced new services across our network and improved others.

•J  ourney time benefits Our services provide an alternative to travelling by car, which in turn helps limit traffic growth, increases in car journey times and delays from congestion. • Tourism We offer convenient access to important tourist areas in the north. Our services are particularly important for such places as Blackpool, Scarborough, Morecambe and the Lake District, where tourist income is essential. •P  roductive time Almost 12% of our commuters work during their journey. This not only provides economic benefits but also means they can work on the train

rather than at home, offering them more ‘quality’ time. • Carbon benefits The average travel CO2 emissions of rail passengers are about 50% lower than if the journey was made by car. • Safety impacts More people are using a safer method of travel as, statistically, rail is safer when compared with the car. • Direct employment benefits We have estimated the value of all jobs directly employed on our services. If we included the support services then the economic and community impact figure would be even greater.

As stations are the gateway to our network we’ve worked closely with stakeholders to improve facilities for customers. Working with Merseytravel and the DfT, we’ve installed Customer Information Screens, power operated doors, height-adjustable ticket counters and waiting rooms at Prescot and Broad Green stations. For our customers in rural areas, we support 18 Community Rail Partnerships in their work to promote rural lines and bring the railway and local communities closer together. Our services on the Esk Valley line between Middlesbrough and Whitby take 60 children to school each day. Some areas have limited road access and during harsh weather conditions, our service can be the only transport link to and from Whitby. We’re committed to becoming a low carbon business and our research indicates that the average CO2 emissions for rail passengers are about 50% lower when compared with driving. In addition, between 2007 and 2010 we reduced our train carbon emissions by 14%. For more details about ‘The Value of Northern’ contact Colette Fowler, Public Affairs Manager, on 01904 568 642 or email her at

J anuary / 13

the value of Northern

Adding value

driving safety

Once again it’s that challenging time of year when the really bad weather could arrive at any minute. So dig out that warm coat, find that scarf and stay safe and warm. Staying safe

14 / january

Staying warm

In winter it’s really important to think about how you can adapt your driving technique to the prevailing conditions and how responsible driving will help you stay in control. Extra running brake tests may be required in freezing conditions.

It’s important to keep warm, as this helps to keep you vigilant and maintain concentration, so where possible turn up the heaters to keep your train at a steady temperature and maybe leave it running to keep the heat circulating so it remains comfortable for customers.

By using a lower power notch and your coasting skills, you will have more control over your train. This will give you more time to make important decisions and allow you to correctly react to any changing situation. The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be to adapt to the challenges you may face.

Getting our trains warm fast is sometimes difficult and keeping the doors and windows closed as much as possible will make a difference to how warm the train is and to how much energy is wasted. If doors are left open whilst the train is at a buffer stop, the energy used is almost doubled, but with a little care it’s possible to keep warm and look after the environment at the same time.

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J A N U A R Y / 15

your tell us and s ie stor h 0 wor t get £1 pping of sho ers! vouch





I’m really pleased to say that last month nearly 90% of our trains arrived on time for our customers.


his is much better than the equivalent month in 2010 and improved our moving annual average performance score to 90.6%. After the recent frustration caused by Network Rail issues, this positive news is a real boost for us and proves that our hard work to prepare for autumn has really paid off. Our next challenge will be when the bad winter weather arrives and I’m sure our winter preparation will be just as successful so that customers can continue to rely on us to get them to their destinations on time.

� Service Quality (SQ) Station presentation scores continue to be good, even though it’s much more difficult to keep them clean at this time of the year. Moreover, when compared to the same month in 2010, our SQ score is 2% higher. Our train SQ scores have improved too, with all three performance monitoring units above target. This is great news for our customers and they’re already noticing the improvements made by the on-train cleaners.

Richard Allan, Assistant Area Director North & East 16 / january

Walking for Steve

raising money for steve

Northern colleagues raised over £3,000 in two weeks for the Brain Tumour Research and Support charity. After hearing that Steve Pilmer, Driver from Leeds, had developed a brain tumour his colleagues got together and discussed what they could do to help. Two weeks later they were on Leeds City station in silly hats and fancy dress, ready to set off on a 17-mile walk to Wakefield to raise money for Steve’s chosen charity: Brain Tumour Research and Support. The 30-strong team visited Neville Hill and Crofton depots to meet up with more colleagues who’d worked with Steve, then it was off to Pinderfields


hospital in Wakefield to meet Steve and his wife so that he could comment on their sore feet and aching limbs. At The Hop pub the walkers were met by lots more colleagues, family and friends for a hugely successful and enjoyable auction where almost £3,400 was raised for the charity. We’re pleased to have played our part too and are delighted to be giving two of Steve’s grandchildren a cab ride in one of our trains. Sadly Steve passed away at the end of November – he will be greatly missed.

the team visit neville hill




BTP officers have asked us to help them gather data in relation to the ‘Real Ale Trail’ which affects many of our Leeds-HuddersfieldManchester Victoria services on Saturdays. Please report any incidents you witness, because the data we gather will help BTP and our Debt Recovery and Prosecutions Unit (DRPU) tackle any problems we get on this service.

a hugely successful and enjoyable auction where almost £3,400 was raised for the charity.


To help you, the DRPU has produced a trainspecific information sheet that will be issued with any affected diagram, so please get involved and report all incidents.


Getting tough This year we’ve taken a number of steps to prevent disorder on the 21.18 Newcastle to Carlisle service on Saturday evenings. So far we’ve strengthened the service so that we can segregate football fans, we’ve banned alcohol, asked for extra BTP officers to travel on the train and increased the number of Northern security colleagues available. We’re also giving banning orders to anyone arrested for unsociable or violent behaviour, which means that they’re not allowed to use our services again. These measures have reduced the level of disorder, but reports from some traincrew make it clear that more needs to be done. To understand the best way to combat these continuing problems, we invited union representatives and BTP officers to a meeting where we could share our ideas and concerns. The meeting was really productive and we now have more initiatives planned and fully expect some of them to be implemented before Christmas. We need your help too. We’d like you to report all incidents you witness so that we can effectively target the trouble hotspots and make Northern safer for everyone.

area north & east

Be alert � HARTLEPOOL The Hartlepool station make-over is now complete. The canopy has been extended, the entrance has been re-painted, waiting shelters have been installed and there are new benches on the platform.

� COFFEE KIOSK AT HEXHAM The Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership has worked very hard to secure £15,000 of external investment to fund the opening of a coffee kiosk, staffed by students with learning disabilities from a local college. The kiosk gives them practical work experience and it’s the first time for more than 15 years that customers have been able to buy a hot or cold drink or sandwich at the station.

� ILKLEY STATION Customers who travel through Ilkley station are seeing real improvements as the £625,000 refurbishment scheme is now complete. Work has included constructing a new station building, including the ticket office, heated waiting room and waiting shelters. There are customer information screens throughout the station, CCTV and improved signage and announcement system. The entrance canopy to the station has also been refurbished and new gates installed to provide a more attractive entrance to the station.

C O N G RA T U L A T I O N S T O. . .

Phillip Gamble, Conductor from Leeds, Belinda Railton, Driver from York , and John Thompson, Conductor from Doncaster who are the area’s latest delay-repor ting prize-winners.

J A N U A R Y / 17

your tell us and s ie stor h 0 wor t get £1 pping of sho ers! vouch



Global warming? A five-foot-high penguin has taken up residence at St Helens Central station.

I’m delighted to say that your hard work to make sure we were ready for autumn has really paid off.


anchester and Liverpool (ML) beat their Public Performance Measure (PPM) target by 2%, and Lancashire and Cumbria (LC) beat theirs by almost 6%. This means that despite the weather, our customers are benefiting from lots more trains getting them to their destinations on time. Over the past few months our PPM has been affected by external problems, such as cable theft and other Network Rail issues, so it’s nice to prove that when these are kept under control, Northern can deliver excellent performance.

� Service Quality (SQ) After working closely with colleagues and industry partners our station presentation scores have improved, although a common theme which may be emerging is moss growing on the platform. We’ve improved our train SQ scores by successfully targeting graffiti and etched glass problems. We do seem to have a specific cleaning issue at Blackpool though, so we’ll be looking at how we can make quick improvements here too.

Lee Wasnidge, Area Director West 18 / january

The penguin is one of two donated by St Helens Council and comes from the colony of beautifully designed penguins created by artists, schools and community groups during last winter’s ‘Go Penguin’ festival. The penguin is a really imaginative design, so putting it on display at our station is a great way to show it off to thousands of passengers each week. Our unusual new recruit was unveiled to the public by Councillors Mark Dowd and Marie Rimmer; after he’d been through our induction programme, station colleagues decided to call him George. Everyone thinks George is fantastic and his tie and name badge are on order. S T U D E N T


If you’re passing through the station, make sure you say hi to him. If you want to see the other penguin then ‘Dream’ is on display at St Helens Junction station.

Councillors Mark Dowd and Marie Rimmer, and Gary Abernethy, Station Manager, with George


Student and cycle passes at St Ambrose College Four students from St Ambrose College in Hale receive the first student and cycle passes issued by Northern. When we heard about the problems on the Mid-Cheshire line where some students from St Ambrose College were unable to board our trains we decided to see what we could do. The problem was that we didn’t always have enough room for their bikes and if the students waited for the next train they were often late for their classes. After speaking to the headteacher of the college we came up with the student and cycle pass scheme. Holders of a pass are fully briefed on how and where to store their bikes on

our trains, which means that, when the pass is presented to the conductor, they will know that the bike will be stored correctly, not blocking aisles or doors. With such confidence in the students we can allow up to four bikes per train on our quieter services. The pass is not a guarantee that the student will be allowed onto the train if it’s busy, as we will revert back to our ‘two bikes per train’ policy, but so far the scheme is working really well and our relationship with the College and the students has improved considerably.

S A N T A ’ S


area west


Helping Heroes at Wigan Wallgate station Colleagues at Wigan Wallgate station got into the Christmas spirit by dedicating a weekend to Help the Heroes charity. They started by turning the station waiting room into a Santa’s Grotto so that children could come along and meet the man himself. Then after all the excitement of chatting with Santa, the children had the opportunity to see Station Supervisor Roy Gregson’s model steam train running along the station platform and explore some real steam traction engines. The day was a truly nostalgic affair with the sound of steam engines, the smell of mince pies and Christmas music ringing out from the band playing on the concourse. Even the Town Crier got into the Christmas spirit by welcoming everyone to the station with his musical box and bells.

This month we’ve hosted two high profile visits to the area. First, HRH Price Charles visited Burnley Manchester Road when he was on his way to the Mill at Burnley. Then MP Jack Straw officially opened Blackburn station after it had undergone a range of improvements.

� BETTER INFORMATION Cumbria County Council has agreed to fund the trial of a low cost customer information screen which relies on transponders rather than GPS. We plan to install them at Maryport and Dalton in Furness to assess the technology, but an additional benefit is that because they’re low-power, they’re suitable to use solar energy.

� MEET THE MANAGER We’ve held ‘Meet the Manager’ events at some of our stations, including Edge Hill, Accrington, Wilmslow and Knutsford. Members of the Area team met with customers to answer their queries and find out what they think about our services. Feedback has been really positive and more events are planned for next year.

C O N G RA T U L A T I O N S T O. . .

Rob Edwards, CTM at Manchester Piccadilly, and students from St Ambrose College

Robert Lawson, Conductor from Manchester Victoria, David Mannion, Conduc tor from Blackpool Nor th, and Brian Flyn n, Driver from Manchester Piccadilly, who are the area’s latest delay-repor ting prize-winners.

J A N U A R Y / 19

ngineering and depot


It’s been a bit of a mixed bag this month. Our performance was better than expected and our reliability figures continue to improve. However, despite having fewer train defects, our delays and cancellations have increased, so we’re working with the Operations and Performance teams to understand what it is we need to do to improve this situation for our customers.

Stuart Draper, Engineering Director


Heaton and North District From John Alexander, District Maintenance Manager North...

� ALLERTON The depot is ready for the December timetable change as planned, although the under-frame cleaning equipment will not be working until February 2012. As a contingency, arrangements have been made to use the facility at Newton Heath until Allerton is fully operational.

� SKIPTON Our new and improved stabling roads at Skipton are ready and we plan to store additional trains there from this month.

� HULL BOTANIC GARDENS Work is going really well at Hull Botanic Gardens to add the additional stabling road. Network Rail has completed the crane and engine drop pit upgrade so that we can now change Class 158 engines and gearboxes there. 20 / january

It’s been another busy year, with some great achievements and challenges faced. We’ve had to adapt quickly to change and I’m sure 2012 will be no different. We made some adjustments to our train presentation structures in the second half of the year and the first couple of periods have brought some very encouraging results. It’s fantastic to see the SQM figures moving in the right direction – please keep up the great work as it really does make a lot of difference for our customers. There have been changes in our team. Gary Tremble and Mick McCormack both moved to new roles in central support, Alex Buchanan hung up his Quality and Facilities manager’s hat after many years with us and Gary Cain moved into a new role within the technical support team in Northern House. I’d like to thank them all for their

loyalty to the depot as they leave us after a combined service of around 75 years. One thing that doesn’t change is your dedication and determination – I’m proud that we’ve achieved so much this year and I’d like to thank you all for your hard work. Have a great time over the festive period!


Newton Heath and West District From Dave Allen, District Maintenance Manager West...

I want to round the year off remembering a few of our achievements in 2011 and I’m proud that everyone played a part in those achievements. In January we managed to turn round a horrific situation; around the -40 mark on fleet, chipping ice off couplers, frozen toilet systems – hard and uncomfortable work but we managed to keep our trains running.

derelict shell to a functioning depot as well as recruiting and training 37 colleagues. And 18 class 150s and 7 class 142s were modified and delivered into service ahead of schedule.

Class 180s arrived and needed attention for three months but with the drop-pit works and installation problems, we lost a full maintenance road for 12 weeks just as we took on the C4 half-life works. You came up with ingenious solutions to a seemingly impossible situation.

The preparation for Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit was excellent. The PM enjoyed his chats with colleagues and he was impressed with our attention to detail and hard work.

We had numerous facilities upgrades and the Allerton project got underway – six months from a

Your contributions have made 2011 a memorable year and I want to wish you and your family, partners and friends all the best for the festive period, and look forward to a truly exciting 2012. Thank you all.

Neville Hill and East District From Julia Wraithmell, District Maintenance Manager East...

It’s amazing how quickly the festive season comes around and it seems like only yesterday we were discussing the preparations for autumn. Now, while many of you will be enjoying time away celebrating, let’s not forget those who’ll be keeping our District focused on the day-to-day operations. Historically, performance takes a dip at the start of a new year in terms of both reliability and availability, so it’s important we plan to achieve the performance levels our customers deserve. Improvement work is going well at Hull, Skipton and Neville Hill and I’m particularly excited about the new e-learning suite that’s in the final stages of installation at the depot. This fantastic facility will be the first of its type for Northern, enabling colleagues to improve technical and computer skills in comfortable, well-equipped surroundings. Our facilities team and training department are working closely on this project and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product. Looking ahead, we’re discussing the specification of the heavy maintenance plan for the Class 158s and we hope to start the work in March next year. I’ll give you more details once they’re finalised. Finally wherever you are over Christmas and New Year, I’d like to thank you all for your hard work and support throughout 2011 and offer many season’s greetings.

TPO Talk by Keith Healicon, Area Train Presentation Supervisor

Smile you’re on camera In an effort to improve the way we present our trains for our customers we’re developing a train presentation training DVD which shows the 38 different tasks we carry out to clean our trains. The DVD will be used in the training of all Train Presentation Operatives (TPOs) to help them understand the best way to carry out their duties. When we spoke to TPOs about the best way to improve our cleaning standards, the DVD came out as the best solution because they believed it would bring consistency to our network. With such a strong belief across our cleaning team we got to work immediately and commissioned Steve Craggs from Badger Dog Films to create the training DVD. We’re pleased to say that filming has already started and Newton Heath was the first depot to be visited by Steve and his camera. Once the 38 tasks have been recorded and edited, we’ll roll-out the DVD so that all TPOs can see it. I’m sure you’re as pleased as we are at the prospect of making our trains even cleaner for our customers. J A N U A R Y / 21


Say Say e v i L Once again our mail bag is bulging, and we’re delighted so many of you are getting in touch with your comments, questions and great ideas. Thank you to everyone who wrote in last month, there were so many great letters and questions, we wanted to reply to them all. We’ve included a selection here and will try and answer the rest in the next issue.



Why have we no replacement chip and pin machines? Swipe and sign cause long queues and a very poor customer experience.

We know that our lack of chip and PIN facilities at some locations causes frustration for both you and our customers. The problem is that our PIN Entry Devices (PEDs) are not made anymore and there are no spares available to fix them. We’ve managed to get some extra PEDs from another train operator and we’ll get these sent out as quickly as we can.

I work at Stockport Sidings and our payslips go to the drivers’ signing point at Piccadilly. We are having issues getting them – they either get lost or end up somewhere else at Piccadilly and it takes ages to find them.


A request was made to our Payroll team some time ago to change the delivery of wage slips to Manchester Piccadilly. This was because a lot of the team worked nights and were unable to get their payslips as they were kept in the offices at Stockport which are locked overnight.


It’s not feasible for individual payslips to be sent out separately but if having them delivered to Manchester Piccadilly is causing difficulties for the team, have a chat with Sarah Henderson, our Payroll Manager, on 0161 822 1021.


Is it true that we are being issued name badges with just first names on? If not, can this be reconsidered as some colleagues feel uncomfortable displaying their full name?


22 / january

We’re looking into reissuing them but at the moment our name badges should always have our full name and job title on them as it’s part of our uniform standards. If you feel that displaying your real name might put your personal safety at risk, have a chat with your line manager about using an alternative name for your badge.


When we run rail replacement buses why don’t we take revenue on them? Surely it makes sense to charge customers for the journey they are making by train or bus! Why should we run a ‘free’ bus shuttle? Our revenue protection colleagues do a great job when there are replacement buses on our network. For health and safety reasons they have to work in pairs and don’t normally travel on the buses so they issue tickets before customers board. Unfortunately they can’t be at every location and we know that some customers don’t pay. We’re looking at ways to resolve this issue but if you have any ideas, have a chat with one of our revenue managers.




Abellio will take over the running of the Greater Anglia franchise on 5 February 2012. We’ll let you know about any reciprocal arrangements as soon as we can.

your say

Now that Abellio have won the Greater Anglia franchise would it be possible for Northern colleagues to have free travel on their network like we do on Merseyrail trains?


Why have we stopped selling tickets for passengers getting on at Manchester United Football Club station? We now let them get on trains at this station without tickets.


I’d like to know why there is no rest day working available for drivers, yet conductors can work their rest days if they choose to. Drivers and conductors have separate arrangements for rest day working.

The conductors’ agreement allows rest day working to cover shifts and help to keep services running for our customers. There are strict rules about when we can use this option as we have to consider

Your want to

ay Say e v i L have...


maximum hours and rest breaks for example. We don’t have an agreement with the trade unions to have rest day working for drivers. This option has to be requested by the business and sanctioned by ASLEF; it can only be granted for a specific reason and for a specified period of time.

What would you like to ask us this month?



To cope with the number of football fans travelling, on match days, ten colleagues from our revenue team at Manchester Piccadilly used to work at the station near the Manchester United stadium. This meant that there were fewer colleagues available at Manchester Piccadilly to help our other customers. After an assessment we felt that we should keep the teams at Manchester Piccadilly as the vast majority of football fans travel through it or Manchester Oxford Road if they’re using our trains to get to the ground. This means that we can concentrate our efforts and check that anyone travelling through either of these stations has bought a ticket, including all the football fans travelling to Old Trafford.

more room overleaf... J A N U A R Y / 23

Could you please explain how the delay attribution system works? I submit delay slips at the end of my shift, however on many occasions lately the next day there is a form in my pigeon hole requesting information for the same delay! Speaking with colleagues this is quite common – shouldn’t we be trying to avoid duplicity?


Delays to our services are monitored by our Performance Team. If they haven’t received any information about an incident, a request for a report will be sent to you to try and identify what the problem was and if we can prevent it happening again. This happens quite quickly, and can be within an hour of the incident happening. If you’ve submitted a delay slip to our Control team, the request form may still arrive in your pigeon hole as it was probably sent before your information was received. Once you’ve sent a slip, you don’t need to send the details again unless the team need a little bit more information from you.




When is the roof at Hexham station going to be repaired?

We’re sorry that this hasn’t happened as quickly as we would have liked. Network Rail has a detailed and complex programme of repairs for many stations: those for Hexham are scheduled to be completed by the end of next year. We’ll let you know locally when definite dates are agreed.




Encouraged by Dave Allen’s comments about apprentices at Newton Heath, why have we only had one apprentice at Neville Hill in the last 10 years approximately and are there plans to employ more at Neville Hill?


We’re hoping to recruit two apprentices at each of our depots during 2012 and we’re also looking at how we can increase this number during the remainder of our franchise.

What rumours have you heard that you think we should respond to?




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area north & east

24 / january

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Your Northern 58  

your northern magazine issue 58