Arguably the biggest rail story in the region in the past year was the summer blockade of the railway line between Scunthorpe and Doncaster (well Thorne Junction to be exact). This led to bus replacements being required while essential engineering work was carried out. However the timing and replacement services did raise some questions.
Firstly the timing, between June and September - the peak time for tourists going to Cleethorpes. This did attract some criticism in Cleethorpes, though bluntly the freight traffic on the South Humber Main Line is more important, and from a freight perspective summer was the best time for the blockade.
From my perspective the replacement services raised the biggest questions. Firstly the line between Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe was open, yet no rail service was provided. Secondly no use was made of Brigg Line to provide an alternative through service between North East Lincolnshire and Cleethorpes. The replacement services seemed to have cost and convenience for the rail industry as the priority ahead off what was best for the customer.
The work is done now, and the blockade is in the past. But hopefully more consideration will be given to trying to provide at least limited alternative rail services where possible in future blockades, where ever they are in the country. The Network Rail 7-day railway initiative is a good start with regards to weekend work, and hopefully some of the ideas from that can be applied to longer blockades.
As a final side note, North East Lincolnshire was totally cut off from the national rail network this past Christmas weekend as Network Rail replaced a bridge at Barnetby, which did cut the village in half and adversely affect some local businesses. Again though there is probably never a perfect time to do the work, and Christmas is probably the least worst time - from a railway perspective certainly.
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