Rail users feel forgotten after New Mills arson attack

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Commuters using New Mills Newtown station say they feel forgotten by Northern, as their year-long wait for a replacement ticket office continues.

The ticket office and waiting room were destroyed in June last year - at a cost of around £25,000 - after arsonists set fire to a wheelie bin on the station platform.

Since then there has been no CCTV, no tannoy announcements and no digital displays of train information.

Andy Rosser, of Longlands Road in New Mills, said: “It’s like a lottery if the train will be on time or even show up at all, which isn’t good enough for rail users.

“Northern have put profit over the comfort and safety of passengers and that’s not right, especially when you think about how much train tickets actually are.

“Surely there must be enough money to make the necessary repairs and then claim it back from the insurance rather than waiting.”

Firefighters from Whaley Bridge and Marple attended the blaze, along with officers from British Transport Police (BTP).

Speaking last year, a BTP spokesman said: “Officers have launched an investigation and are currently working to establish the cause of the blaze but initial reports suggests a wheelie bin may have been deliberately set alight near the booking office.”

A spokesman for Derbyshire Fire Service said: “The roof over the waiting room had to be stripped off due to the damage.”

Andy said the response since from Northern had been ‘wholly unsatisfactory’ and that they had just been ‘passing platitudes’ to customers but not doing anything.

He said: “I would be sympathetic if this was the month after the fire, but it happened over a year a go.”

A spokesman for Northern said: “We are working closely with Network Rail to resolve the issues at New Mills Newtown and appreciate the patience and understanding of our customers during the period of repair.

“Due to the extent of the damage, this will be a long process, but customers can be assured we are fully committed to ensuring New Mills Newtown is ready as soon as possible.”

Three males, two 16-year-olds who cannot be named for legal reasons, and a 19-year-old, Leo Gibson, of Fairfield Road, Buxton, all pleaded guilty to arson charges relating to the damage.

Gibson was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court in May and given a 16-month prison sentence for arson and possession of drugs, suspended for a year. He was also ordered to complete 250 hours’ unpaid work and pay a £140 victim surcharge.

The 16-year-olds were given nine and 12-month youth referral order respectively and ordered to pay £200 compensation and a £20 victim surcharge.