England

TransPennine Express told to make urgent improvements

Nova train in Lime Street Station
Image caption Transport for the North said TransPennine Express's new fleet of trains were a welcome improvement

An under-performing railway company told to make urgent improvements, is drinking in the "last chance saloon", an MP has said.

TransPennine Express (TPE), rated as one of the worst performers in the UK late last year, has been set four targets to restore public confidence.

Transport for the North (TfN) said TPE must return its performance to early 2019 levels by next month.

The company said it had restored and improved services since December.

TPE Managing Director Leo Goodwin said: "Since the start of the year we have made a number of changes which has seen our performance improve, but we know that there is more to be done."

'Dire threats'

Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake welcomed the new performance targets but said TPE was in the "last chance saloon if they don't hit these figures".

"Public ownership is not a silver bullet, but it is with some reluctance that I say this may have to happen if they do not improve."

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said TPE should join Northern and the East Coast routes under public control.

Mr Cash added: "You would have thought after the Northern Rail fiasco, transport bosses would have realised dire threats and final warnings just prolong the agony."

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram (Labour) said TPE were "just as bad as Northern.

"I won't settle for a second class service. That also means proper investment from government in the north's transport infrastructure," he added.

Transport for the North said the firm must show "clear progress" on restoring its full timetable and "timely communication to passengers".

Failure to deliver

It advises the government on transport strategy in the north of England and said the rail firm had struggled to introduce new trains which arrived late into service and had experienced teething problems.

David Hoggarth, strategic rail director for Transport for the North, said: "In the run-up to Christmas last year TPE simply failed to provide what was needed."

He said the new trains were welcome but service levels had to be maintained as they were introduced.

TfN said the first target for TPE would be to return to the Public Performance Measure (PPM) of 86% that it achieved in the first half of 2019.

This had dropped to 45% by November 2019.

The company runs services to Liverpool, Sheffield, Hull, Leeds, York, Scarborough, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, York, and Manchester Airport

Last month Northern was stripped of its franchise for poor performance.

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