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In September we ran a digital Ask the Manager session alongside Network Rail to give you the chance to ask us anything about the service we provide.
Thank you for all the questions you submitted, below you will find answers from various Merseyrail and Network Rail Managers.
Response from Pete Glass - Head of Performance Planning
The stopping pattern is specified by Merseytravel as part of the concession which Merseyrail operate to. There is also a requirement to operate a regular pattern timetable as part of the concession, which running semi-fast trains would make difficult. The infrastructure and train planning rules, which are managed by Network Rail, also limit the ability to speed trains up significantly to give enough of a journey time saving to make this viable.
The times we operate is governed by Network Rail. This is due to them requiring around 5 hours per night to safely maintain the infrastructure in the Underground section of our network. They also require access on various nights to other lines to undertake maintenance which cannot take place when trains are operating. As a result we are prevented from operating earlier or later unfortunately.
Response fron Stephen Bradley - Head of Stations
There are a few new things you can expect that have been put in place to keep both our passengers and staff safe, including:
The safety of our passengers and staff is our number one priority and we are doing all we can following government guidance to ensure your safety.
Over the last few years, we have put a real focus on protecting the day-to-day operation of serving stations between Hooton and Chester. We introduced the Autumn timetable to minimise skip stopping trains. During special events we sometimes have to consider skipping stations to improve the capacity of the overall network, which has affected Capenhurst in the past. We are also working with Network Rail to improve the reliability on the line, as this has often been a problem. Network Rail are investing in improved drainage to prevent flooding, a new electrical substation at Capenhurst to ensure reliable power supply and additional works to improve reliability of signalling around Chester.
Throughout this pandemic, we have worked hard to ensure that we provide a safe and reliable service to the people of the Liverpool City Region, adapting and changing based on resource availability and changes in government guidance.
Whilst our aim remains to return to the full timetable our Wirral passengers know and value, the current Government guidance covering workplaces means that staff at our Wirral depot will not be able to sufficiently socially distance if we further increase the frequency of services on these lines.
Instead, we have focused on increasing the number of seats through providing longer trains. This not only requires fewer traincrew to operate, but also provides 7% more seats for passengers than our pre-COVID normal timetable and helps with socially distancing on-board.
Response from Daniel Dale - Competency Training Manager
We currently train all of our frontline staff on disability awareness which includes recognising a passenger with hidden disabilities and supporting them with their journey.
Merseyrail is consistently looking at ways to improve customer experience for passengers using our network and we have set up our first Merseyrail Accessibility Forum which takes place in September.
The Merseyrail Accessibility Forum includes disabled passengers or groups that represent them. The forum exists to:
Response from Laura Turnbull - Community Involvement Advisor
One of our multiple partnerships is with charity organisation Autism Initiatives. We have had a close relationship with them for many years and have carried out many successful projects on the network with passengers to engage and communicate in a friendly and open environment. We have also incorporated travel training instilling confidence in their service users when travelling. We also work with Mencap, Sefton Council and Southport and Thornton colleges on similar travel training programmes.
Response from Paul Draper - Moorfields Station Manager
During lockdown, footfall was hugely reduced across our network meaning that Moorfields station was very quiet at times. As part of ensuring our escalators operate safely, we have a maintenance contract in place which includes any faults that need rectifying.
The company that provides this had reduced their service to a minimum following government advice to ensure staff safety. This, coupled with a hugely reduced footfall, resulted in us rotating operational escalators and only using what was required reduce the likelihood of a fault occurring by using all the escalators at once. This was continually reviewed by our Safety team in line with government advice, social distancing guidelines and our own internal policies and procedures.
This process has been reviewed and staff now assess the use of escalators based on footfall. There can be other reasons an escalator is taken out of service which include faults and accidents occurring on an escalator, which require an engineer to attend before they are put back in service.
Merseyrail has put various measures in place to assist passengers with social distancing across the network as follows:
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