Return to full timetables in September may be stalled due to infrastructure failures

Plans to move back to full timetables from chaos-stricken TOCs such as Northern Rail and TransPennine Express have been thrown into doubt following a recent Transport for North (TfN) meeting.

Northern Rail reintroduced three-quarters of its services to daily schedule on Monday but the roll-outs were once again marred by a string of cancellations and delays. Northern, amongst other providers, introduced emergency timetables cutting 168 daily services on 4 June following chaotic new schedules on 20 May, but the passengers have continued to be frustrated by disruption on the north of England’s rail networks.

Now, after it was thought that Northern, Network Rail and TransPennine Express would reintroduce the remaining quarter of services in September, the comprehensive schedules could be in doubt.

A TfN board meeting last night — which included major decision-makers from NR, Northern, and TPE — highlighted doubts over the network returning to regular services this year due to infrastructure issues.

A statement released by the TfN Partnership Board said: “After a wide-ranging discussion, the board concluded that it had not received sufficient assurance that current plans and a move to the full May timetable in September are fully deliverable.

“The board is concerned that train performance targets will continue to not be fully met, on the basis of current performance levels and network infrastructure constraints. TfN will be raising these concerns with the industry and with government.”

TfN noted that regular, non-season ticket holding passengers who are not eligible for compensation following the May chaos should be able to receive payment for facing delays. 

Some of the infrastructural constraints include the lack of platforms at Manchester Piccadilly. The DfT has yet to give the go-ahead for platforms 15 and 16 to be constructed at the station, causing limitations on the full timetable to be rolled out.

A DfT spokesperson said as joint managers of Northern and TPE, the DfT will continue to “work closely” with TfN to improve services for passengers and jointly accept the rail industry’s recommendation to phase in the majority of services from Monday 30 July.

“That work with our joint managers at Transport for the North will carry on as the remaining services are introduced and we will continue to monitor the performance of train operators to ensure the needs of passengers are put first,” the spokesperson added.

“This is in addition to further timetable adjustments to improve reliability, to reduce disruption for passengers and to ensure they see the benefits of our long-term investment.”

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Image credit: onfilm, iStock images


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