England

Northern train timetable changes were 'massive failure'

Commuters wait on a railway platform Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Passengers had "lost their trust" in the north's rail infrastructure, a review said

The introduction of new train timetables that caused chaos last summer was "a massive failure" of the rail industry, a report has said.

Northern introduced new timetables on 20 May 2018, leading to widespread disruption.

A review led by Rail Minister Andrew Jones and Leeds council leader Judith Blake found it "led to severe hardship" for commuters across the north.

Transport for the North said there would be "a 're-set' of our railways".

The review said: "Cancellations, delays, overcrowding and late-running caused significant disruption to the lives of passengers, and trust in the railways' ability to provide reliable services was severely affected."

It said the north's rail infrastructure also suffered from "short formed trains, reliability issues and bottlenecks" and needed "significant reforms", despite improvements being made to services in recent months.

"Whilst the December 2018 and May 2019 timetable changes were introduced without further significant disruption, there is still work to do to fully restore passenger confidence in the North's railway system," the report stated.

Image copyright Susan Ramsdale
Image caption There were major delays on 21 May 2018 at Manchester Piccadilly after the timetables changed

It went on to say that passengers had "lost their trust in the system" and described the May 2018 timetable changes as a "debacle".

"Basic rail services failed to operate; trains were often either late or cancelled - and when they did run they were often short form trains, half the length of those that passengers had come to depend on."

Recommendations were made for a new "Passenger Promise" putting customers "at the centre of decision-making across the industry" and improving accountability.

Chief executive of Transport for the North Barry White said Ms Blake and Mr Jones had put the needs of passengers "absolutely front and centre of their review" and had "bore the brunt of last year's chaos, which impacted on both lives and livelihoods".

He added the review would be "pivotal in achieving a 're-set' of our railways".

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