Grayling promises to tackle Northern failures with clear performance plan

Rail staff abused by passengers angry at timetable changes

Urgent 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.

As I said yesterday, later this morning I will be chairing a conference call with the northern leaders'.

There are now delays and cancellations on the Manchester - Blackburn - Clitheroe line, the Manchester Airport- Blackpool North as well as many others across the county.

Northern says the problems developed after they attempted to add an additional 1,300 train services a week - a move which required a major restructure of the current timetable.

Following the announcement, David Brown, managing director at Northern, apologised to the operator's customers. A timetable change of such a scale involves reorganising staff rotas, training staff for new routes, and reorganising how we deploy our trains.

Unions have demanded better protection for frontline rail staff from irate passengers as cancellations and delays continued on the Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern rail lines.

Mr Grayling said: "What we have seen in the last few days has not been good enough".

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The Rail North Partnership said will be focusing on a number of key issues, which include improving early communication of disruptions to services to the public and daily calls between train companies and Network Rail to manage the running of the new timetable.

Yes, Rail North - now Transport for the North - has finally received some policy powers but the latest problems can not be blamed on local leaders. We have received a timetable recovery plan from Northern to address these concerns and improve the rail experience for passengers.

A spokeswoman for Transport for the North said they are "extremely disappointed and concerned with the inadequate performance of Northern".

"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".

"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", he said.

The two bodies, acting through The Rail North Partnership, said the plan aimed to restore services to acceptable levels of reliability as soon as possible, following a week of chaos for commuters in Cumbria. Even before the changes were made, Burnham wrote to TfN to highlight Northern's performance, saying he had been "bombarded" with complaints about the operator's performance and calling for an investigation into whether it is in breach of its franchise agreement.

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