Andy Burnham has slammed the proposed closure of train station ticket offices as “wholly inadequate” for Greater Manchester.
Around three out of five train stations in England currently have a staffed ticket office – but in case you hadn’t heard, the government-run Rail Delivery Group (RDG) announced earlier this week that it’s looking to change that moving forward, and unveiled plans to “bring station staff closer to customers” by moving them out of ticket offices and onto platforms and concourses instead.
Bringing staff out from ticket offices would apparently allow the rail industry to “respond to that generational shift in customer behaviour” just like other similar industries and organisations have, the RDG said.
Ticket office facilities will remain open at the stations and interchanges considered by the RDG to be the “busiest”, but aside from this, the rest would be closed.
If the proposed changes are accepted, the RDG says closures would be “phased in gradually”.
The industry body has now launched a 21-day public consultation on the proposed closures, and is asking passengers for their thoughts on the proposals.
Since the proposed closures were announced, several concerns were raised.
One notable criticism on the plans came from Transport for the North (TfN), with a spokesperson issuing a statement and acknowledging that while the organisation “understands the way people buy tickets is changing” and that there “needs to be reform”, this should, however, be done in a “holistic” way that considers the needs of all station users and local communities.
“We are concerned that the focus on ticket office staffing in isolation of wider investment could lead to disadvantaging certain passengers and communities,” the TfN spokesperson explained.
Mr Burnham tweeted earlier this week: “Reeling from the news that FIFTY ticket offices are set to close at rail stations across Greater Manchester. Feels like the Government is determined to put the North’s railways into not-so-managed decline.
“We will be fighting this hard and will say more about it tomorrow.”
As promised, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has now taken the fight one step further and has penned a letter to Transport Secretary Mark Harper to express his discontent and brand the proposals as “wholly inadequate”.
He has also called for an “immediate suspension” to rail operator Northern‘s process, otherwise he will “have no other option” but to consider legal action.
In the letter to Mark Harper, Mr Burnham says that passengers and staff in Greater Manchester have been “taken aback by the scale of the proposed changes”, and that it feels as though they are being “railroaded through” without proper consultation on the impact they would have on passengers – particularly disabled people and older people.
The Mayor argues that the proposals would “further damage the confidence of passengers in our railways at precisely the time when we are all seeking to attract more people to use public transport and rebuild vital revenue.”
He is calling on Northern to suspend the public consultation with immediate effect until they “publish an Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA) to help inform consultation responses”, and has argued that current plans cannot “adequately be assessed without one”.
On top of that, he also said 21 days is a “clearly insufficient” amount of time for people to judge “such a far-reaching set of proposals”.
Featured Image – Flickr
Trafford’s £75m surf park and leisure resort project is finally moving again
The exciting £75 million development over in Trafford Park that will see a brand-new luxury leisure centre, surf and spa resort arrive in Manchester is finally moving again after two years of delays.
Originally slated to arrive in 2023, planning permission for Modern Surf Manchester was granted back in September 2021 but due to problems with funding, the hugely ambitious project has been held up ever since, with the opening date pushed back to sometime in 2025.
Modern Surf is part of a larger 20-year project to upgrade the TraffordCity complex, with around £2.6bn set aside for the huge investment and undertaking, with this set to be the first inland surfing destination in the North of England — and we’ve already had a spellbinding glimpse of what it’s going to look like.
Using technology from Wavegarden to create an artificial lagoon and giant surf park, the TraffordCity attraction will produce 1000 waves every hour at varying intensities and will be able to house up to 90 people at any one time, delivering a kind of surfing few will ever have experienced before.
Better still, once completed, Modern Surf Manchester will create over 140 new full-time jobs during peak times and –
The wider regeneration of Trafford Park also includes a whopping £250m set aside for the highly-anticipated, Therme Manchester, which was first announced back in 2020 and will be a similarly unprecedented addition to the region and the North as a whole.
The water park, spa and wellness resort situated just next to the Trafford Centre will span nearly 30 acres alone and the latest images depicting how it’s going to look are pretty incredible:
The sheer scale and scope of Modern Surf Manchester and the surrounding investments in Trafford can’t be overstated, not only generating new business and tourism for Greater Manchester but even adding fitness and mental health benefits to locals.
Speaking to TraffordCity, Manc professional surfing coach Alan Bisseker, who has worked with Olympic and professional organisations including GB Surfing, said that “there are few sports that give you as many health and fitness benefits as surfing”, insisting that this “combined with the significant positive impact on mental health and wellness is undeniable and well-documented.”
Andy Hadden, Founder of the newly appointed Tartan Leisure team who are soon set to finish their Lost Shore Surf Resort in Scotland, added: “There has been an enormous rise in popularity for surfing over recent years with proven benefits to our overall health and wellness… the response and appetite that we have seen from the public has been phenomenal. [Modern Surf] will be a very exciting addition to an already incredible combined retail and experienced-based leisure destination for all to enjoy.”
Trafford is already a hub of culture, leisure and sport in the UK and when this thing arrives that’s only going to become more apparent — sod the New Year, roll on 2025 and surf park city!
Featured Images — Trafford City Council (planning portal)/Modern Surf Park Manchester
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.