YEP Says, August 15: Why it’s time to put train passengers in the driving seat

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...and the Leeds United fanzine that’s 25 years young

PUBLIC disquiet with train companies is not just a reflection of complacent operators like Northern Rail, it is also indicative of the continuing failure of industry regulators and Ministers to act on the complaints of passengers.

Few commuters in Leeds will be surprised that Northern Rail has been named and shamed by the Passenger Focus watchdog. After under-estimating demand for services on the Tour de France weekend, it now announces – abruptly – that off-peak fares will not be eligible on rush-hour services each evening.

It is little wonder that so many travellers have concluded that train companies are no longer on their side. Put simply, passengers are being expected to pay more for the privilege of enduring a standard of service that has not kept pace with demand – or expectations.

Northern Rail will inevitably antagonise this ill-feeling still further when it starts to penalise those people who fall foul of its new restrictions.

Such operators need to remember that they’re in the business of providing a public service, and the time has come for the Government – and regulators – to implement a far stricter set of customer targets when a new franchise is awarded for this region in 2016.

If firms like Grand Central can win the trust of customers on its trains from West Yorkshire to London, there’s no reason why Northern Rail cannot do so if it cares enough about its passengers.

Fanzine that’s playing the long ball game

THE WORLD of football has changed a lot in the last quarter of a century. Clubs have become more corporate and players further removed from the supporters.

But one constant for Leeds United fans down the years has been The Square Ball, the irreverent fanzine dedicated to all things Elland Road.

Having been founded during the 1989-90 season when Leeds won promotion to the old First Division, it has charted every twist and turn in the club’s saga.

Yet through all the ups and downs it has supplied welcome wit and humour. And let’s face it, if you’re a Leeds fan you need those in spades.


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