England

More late trains since new timetables introduced, figures show

Northern train Image copyright Northern
Image caption Northern services operate across the North East and North West of England

New train timetables have damaged the punctuality of trains across the country, new figures show.

Almost a quarter of trains operated by Northern were at least five minutes late between 27 May and 23 June, compared with 9% during the same period last year, Network Rail data shows.

This rises to 34% when only the company's Lancashire and Cumbria routes are taken into account.

New timetables were introduced on 20 May, leading to widespread disruption.

In the South East, 36% of Thameslink services failed to hit the punctuality target, compared with 18% in the same period last year.

Great Northern's figure rose from 16% last year to 30% in 2018.

Image copyright Susan Ramsdale
Image caption There were major delays on "Meltdown Monday" on 21 May at Manchester Piccadilly

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was accused of "personally propping up" failing rail franchises by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union amid reports that Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) - which includes Thameslink and Great Northern - could be about to lose its contract.

GTR was said to be "drinking in the last chance saloon", a government source told the BBC.

A series of failures have been blamed for causing the chaos, including Network Rail's late approval of the new timetables and delayed electrification projects.

Poor planning by train operators has also been blamed, and the decision by transport ministers to phase in the introduction of new GTR services.

A GTR spokesman said services on Southern "have been performing much better since the introduction of the new timetable".

He added: "Meanwhile, on Thameslink and Great Northern we are working hard with the Department for Transport and Network Rail to bring in a new, interim timetable that will give certainty and improved services."

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