[U]rgent plans to tackle poor performance on Northern rail services have been submitted today (23 May 2018) to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Rail Minister Jo Johnson.
Northern’s timetable recovery plan will tackle disruption to services following the greatest timetable change for a generation as the government carries out the biggest modernisation of the rail network since Victorian times to improve services for passengers across the country.
Rail Minister Jo Johnson is leading discussions about the issue with Transport for the North (TfN) chief executive Barry White. Jo Johnson has also spoken to Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
The Transport Secretary will be holding a teleconference with northern leaders tomorrow to discuss next steps. Officials are working urgently with TfN and Northern to improve services for passengers.
Measures in the plan include:
- improving driver rostering to get more trains running now
- increasing driver training on new routes to get more services on line as quickly as possible
- additional contingency drivers and management presence at key locations in Manchester
- putting extra peak services in the timetable along the Bolton corridor, including between Buckshaw and Manchester Victoria, and Preston and Manchester Oxford Road
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are delivering the most comprehensive and significant modernisation of the national rail network since the Victorian era.
“Introducing new services, providing passengers with faster journeys and delivering more seats will be part of this essential transformation – but the level of disruption that passengers have experienced in the north is unacceptable.
“Improving the service for Northern customers is the number one performance priority for my department and we will work with the industry to keep disruption at a minimum.”
Rail Minister Jo Johnson said: “Northern is running hundreds more services now compared to last week, helping deliver the biggest change to rail timetables in a generation.
“But passengers have been disrupted and there is concern about performance among people who use the railway.
“I have spoken with the chief executive of Transport for the North and the Mayor of Greater Manchester to underline our absolute commitment to improving performance for passengers.
“We are working closely with train companies to drive down cancellations, and will support Network Rail and the wider industry in delivering these significant improvements.”
A district councillor in Kendal is set to propose a motion to South Lakeland Council calling on the Government to strip Northern of the Lakes Line.
Councillor Matt Severn has asked for the motion to be tabled at the next full council meeting after 22 out of the 36 scheduled trains on the line were cancelled on Monday.
Commuters who use the Lakes Line have been subjected to mass cancellations over recent months which has been especially problematic for students taking their GCSEs who use the train to get to school.
Matt said: “The situation on the Lakes Line has been nothing short of shambolic for the past few months, but yesterday was the final straw.
“People are being forced to miss hospital appointments, days at work and the situation has been even more unbearable for students who are taking their all-important GCSE exams at the moment.
“How long does this horrendous ordeal have to go on for until the Government finally wake up and act?”