NORTHERN LEADERS MEET AS CRITICISM OF RAIL OPERATORS GROWS
Civic leaders from across the north of England are gathering to discuss the dire state of rail services in the region amid further concerns about the performance of operators. The meetings in Leeds on Wednesday come as criticism mounts over the services provided by both Northern and TransPennine Express (TPE).
TPE announced this week is would issue refunds to season ticket holders as its recent performance was described as "completely unacceptable" by the Department for Transport (DfT).
The firm announced it has cancelled dozens of services this month and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he wanted an urgent meeting with the operator to discuss its services, described by a boss of the firm as "not up to scratch".
Criticism of Northern's services were compounded on Wednesday when the Yorkshire Post said a leaked report showed the firm has asked to be allowed to miss targets in its franchise agreement as it would be "significantly late" in refurbishing its fleet of trains.
Mr Shapps has said Northern will have its contract ripped up and passengers will "not have to wait long" before action is taken due to services being "really bad".
Office of Rail and Road figures show just 56% of Northern trains arrived at stations within one minute of the timetable in the 12 months to December 7, compared with the average across Britain of 65%.
TPE's 3% rebate to season ticket holders comes after issues with the introduction of new trains.
The operator said the late delivery of some of the new trains, a maintenance backlog and infrastructure issues, causing a delay in crew training, meant it had to run a temporary decreased service after a number of cancellations.
On Monday, Leo Goodwin, TPE's managing director, said the firm had introduced an "amended timetable between Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh for the rest of January" to allow "services to recover" and "consistency for customers" while the new fleet of trains is rolled out.
Changes listed on the firm's website showed they involved dozens of services across the network.
A DfT spokesman said on Tuesday: "TransPennine Express's performance in recent weeks has been completely unacceptable."
Regional leaders including Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis, and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham are gathering in Leeds for meetings of the Transport for the North board and also the Rail North Board, which oversees the franchises.Published: by Radio NewsHub