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Mayor calls on Prime Minister to intervene to sort Northern train choas

30/07/2018

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has today called on the Prime Minister to intervene to solve the chaos on the railways in the North.

  • Introduction of emergency timetable has not led to promised service improvements
  • New email from Northern Rail reveals dozens of Sunday services cancelled
  • Fears are rising about the phased reintroduction of the May timetable from Monday
  • Transport Secretary promised in May to make sorting out rail services in the North his Department’s top priority but has failed to deliver

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has today called on the Prime Minister to intervene to solve the chaos on the railways in the North.

On Sunday, dozens of trains were cancelled due to staffing shortages, including nearly every service between Liverpool and Manchester Airport, leaving many passengers stranded. An email from a senior executive at Northern sent at 21.02 on Saturday night says: 

“I am sorry to inform you that there will be some disruption to Northern’s services on Sunday 29 July in the Central and West regions. This is due to an unexpected increase (sic) in the numbers of crews available to work this Sunday. We expect about 47 services to be withdrawn, and Network Rail are currently updating their systems. The routes impacted will be: Liverpool Parkway – Manchester Airport; Wigan North Western – Huyton (express services). This decision, which has been taken following discussions with our client, Rail North Partnership, will enable Northern to protect services on Monday, by ensuring our trains are in the right depots ready for the Monday morning commuter services, as we re-introduce most of our May 2018 timetabled services which were suspended on 4 June.”

This latest news follows two months of the emergency timetable where promised service improvements failed to materialise. Performance figures which include the first three weeks of the emergency timetable show that:

  • The number of Northern services in its central region arriving on time (PPM) has declined to 77.2%, compared to 88.4% in the corresponding period last year.
  • Lancashire/Cumbria inter-urban services (including Manchester – Preston) had 1,179 full or part cancellations (19.0% of its services)
  • Merseyside services into Manchester/Wigan and North Manchester services saw 991 train cancellations (12.7% and 8.5% of services respectively).
  • 594 North Manchester services were short formed (12.7%), whilst for Lancashire/Cumbria inter-urban services 401 trains (10%) operated with fewer carriages than scheduled.

A promise by the Transport Secretary to make ending the chaos on the Northern rail system his Department’s top priority has failed to bring any meaningful action to turn things around.

Andy Burnham said: “There are only so many times that I can call on Chris Grayling to do his job and help rail passengers in the North. He has failed to deliver on his promise to make sorting out rail chaos here his top priority and that is why I feel have no choice but to ask the Prime Minister to intervene.

“It is frankly outrageous for emails to be dispatched at 9pm on a Saturday night telling people that there will be a much-reduced service the following day. People heading to Manchester Airport to go on holiday will have been left stranded as will others with work and family commitments. Passengers cannot be left in the lurch like this. This is no way to run a railway and we cannot continue to put up with a rail service provided when the operators can be bothered. People’s lives are being badly affected by this chaos and the Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the plight of Northern commuters.

“The time has come for the Prime Minister to get involved and that is why I have written to her today. She needs to come here to meet with Northern commuters so she can hear first-hand the effect this is having on their lives. She then needs to hold an urgent meeting with the rail industry to get clear answers from them as to why things are still so bad and an action plan to turn the situation around."