Jane Walker: How TransPennine Express rail shambles is hitting tourism in Colne Valley

I LIVE in Slaithwaite where we offer bed and breakfast in our home. We mainly have guests who are visiting family and friends in the Colne Valley.

Tourism is being hit in the Colne Valley by the disruption on TransPennine Express services.

Our guests travel far and wide to visit folk in Slaithwaite, quite literally from all over the world.

Prior to the timetable changes, I considered that we had a good rail service which was fairly reliable.

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One of the attractions for people moving to the Colne Valley and the Calder Valley was the fact that train services were regular, stopping at all the stations on an hourly basis, with speedier links in and amongst the timetable.

This enabled passengers to access Manchester and Leeds, and ultimately the rest of the UK, for work, sports 
events and concerts without requiring a car.

Since the timetable changes, we have had a number of guests who have been caught up in either the strikes or the fact that the trains have not run at all, or, more worryingly, the fact that the destination for the train has never been reached as services have been stopped at Manchester Piccadilly rather than terminating at Manchester Airport.

We have had people who have travelled from New Mexico to Manchester, but then struggle get from there to Slaithwaite. It was the same when they had to fly home to Albuquerque and needed to get an internal flight to Heathrow. The stress.

Travelling from Manchester to Slaithwaite has been equally stressful for guests, particularly those trying to attend a wedding. We had an extremely tearful guest who was convinced she was going to miss her friend’s ceremony.

We used to be able to suggest various places for people to eat in the evenings. By catching a train from Slaithwaite to Marsden, they could enjoy a meal and a drink at Mozzerella’s or The Riverhead Brewery, and catch a train back.

During the course of the year, different festivals celebrated in the Colne Valley will be affected by the timetable disruption. It will impact on Marsden Jazz Festival, The Imbolc Fire Festival and The Marsden Cuckoo and The Moonraking Festival in Slaithwaite.

On a personal level, we organised a couple of days away in London on July 29. There were four adults and two children under eight years of age in the party. The plan was to travel by train from Slaithwaite to Leeds, then catch the LNER service from Leeds to London King’s Cross. We had approximately 15 minutes between arriving in Leeds, and boarding the London-bound train.

We were wary of the pitfalls and were following the progress of the trains that morning. The first train from Manchester ran and was a couple of minutes late in Slaithwaite.

However the following train, the one which we were booked on, was running at least 25 minutes late. We had our cars ready to use. In the dreadful rain we drove from Slaithwaite to Leeds, 
parked our cars in the long stay 
car park and hurtled through the station. We had less than eight minutes to catch the train.

As we left Leeds on the train heading to London, we saw the train we should have caught in Slaithwaite ambling along the track. We would have missed it, thus ruining the trip with my granddaughters to show them where the Paddington films had been shot.

There was still a nasty sting in the tail when we returned two days later – the long stay parking cost us £120 for two vehicles for parking Sunday to Tuesday. This equated to £20 per vehicle per day. Scandalous!

This was a totally unnecessary cost. If the trains had run on time, we would never have needed to drive.

What annoys me more than anything 
is that people’s lives are being affected on a daily basis by these irresponsible actions. All the staff and management at the rail companies will, presumably, be receiving their salaries and transport perks.

I always thought that buying a ticket forged a contract between the purchaser and the supplier. Such a contract is being broken if you cannot get to your destination for which you have bought a ticket. If I am wrong in this, then I would be very interested in listening to the justification.

I hope this has given some insight into the daily grind which train commuters are experiencing as well as those who simply wish to enjoy the company of family and friends – and visit the beautiful Colne Valley.

Jane Walker runs a B&B in Slaithwaite.