Northern rail: 'Carriages were so full I couldn't move my feet'

Departure delays
Image caption Delayed Northern services at Manchester Victoria

Rail passengers at Manchester Victoria Station said they could not agree more that something drastic needed doing to improve Northern's services.

Their comments come as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was "not prepared" to tolerate the commuter line operator's poor performance.

Office of Rail and Road figures show just 56% of Northern trains arrived at stations within a minute of the stated time on the timetable in the 12 months to 7 December.

That compares to an average across Britain of 65%.

Every passenger - including those who did not want to be identified or photographed - said they had suffered from a bad experience with Northern.

Mr Shapps has said he had taken steps that could lead to Northern being stripped of its franchise.

But passengers said they feared whether any successor to Northern could be better.

Image caption Stuart Smith had to get off a train because there was no driver

Stuart Smith, 79. from Salford, said he would be "very happy to see the end of Northern".

He said his worst experience was boarding a packed rush hour train from Manchester to Leeds, only to be told it would be delayed for 20 minutes.

"Next thing we heard there was no driver," he said.

"And then finally it was cancelled."

Mr Smith, who eventually arrived home late via Bradford, added: "I just hope the new company can run services on time - how hard can that be?"

Image caption Olivia Cherry said she recently suffered three cancellations for a 15-minute journey

Olivia Cherry, 23, from Cambridge, recalled the "terrible" experience of Northern when she studied at Manchester.

She added she had recently been trying to travel from Wigan to Euxton, in Lancashire, and suffered three cancellations for a journey "of about 15 minutes".

"We are not asking a lot - just trains that run regularly and on time," she said.

'Explain to boss'

Karen Chisholm, 51, from Essex, said the unreliability of the rail service had had an impact on business meetings.

"You are always having to explain to your boss why you are late," she said.

"I am fortunate my boss understands the situation. I also travelled to London on Virgin and they were hardly ever late so it can be done. Northern seem to be quick to blame the staff.

"I hope a new franchise will have the resources because otherwise I will have to keep explaining why I am late. "

Image caption Ayesha Lohar commutes by car to work because she cannot risk journey delays

Ayesha Lohar, 40, from Blackburn said she believed public ownership would be the best long-term solution.

"I travelled from Blackburn to Manchester in a carriage so crammed you couldn't move your feet.

"As long as firms put profit before passengers they are always going to be squeezing as many people into fewer carriages."

She added: "I drive to work in Blackpool from Blackburn because I cannot risk the delay."

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