Northern and TransPennine trains 'worse than in 2018'

Commuters wait on a railway platform Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Passengers in northern England are increasingly being left waiting for late or cancelled trains

Northern and TransPennine Express (TPE) rail services are worse than they were a year ago when they were disrupted by timetabling chaos, a new report says.

More services were either late or cancelled in July and August than during the same months in 2018, says the Transport for the North report.

The downturn in reliability was "a significant concern" going into autumn.

TPE blamed much of its worsening performance on "weather events such as flooding and extreme heat".

A spokesperson added: "Performance has improved this month and we are working hard to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible service for our customers."

Northern said: "Our performance has been steadily improving over the past 12 months as we have worked hard to bring stability and reliability to our services.

"We know there is more to do, and our customers were impacted over the summer by extreme weather causing flooding and damage to overhead lines and disruption to many rail services across the country."

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

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.

However, the latest performance assessment from Transport for the North says: "Following a period of recovery from December 2018 onwards, performance has continued to deteriorate for both operators.

"Levels of reliability are now lower than in the same period for 2018, with a number of severe weather events, train crew cancellations and fleet failures having a particularly significant impact."

Its Strategic Rail Director, David Hoggarth, said: "The fact that rail passengers in the north are still faced with unreliable services is symptomatic of a transport network in need of strategic investment."

He said the report was clear "that the performance of the operating companies is below what it should be".

"Passengers' interests should come first - and we'll continue to press for the rail industry to adopt this focus."

Failing this happening, he said, "we expect government to intervene... to ensure our communities have a rail network they can rely on".

TPE saw its public performance measure - the percentage of trains running on time - drop to 70.9% between 21 July and 17 August from 75.7% in the same period last year. An average of 42 trains were cancelled each day, representing 12.9% of services.

The figure for Northern fell to 79.4% from 82.2%. An average of 139 trains were cancelled each day, representing 5.3% of services.

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