Rail franchises operators & contracts

07.03.19

New six-carriage Northern trains pushed back two years due to delayed upgrade works

The delivery of Northern’s new six-carriage trains at Leeds station has been delayed by two years due to separate delays to Network Rail upgrades.

The longer trains were due to be introduced at the end of this year, but due to delays to the installation of longer platforms at Leeds station the trains will now no longer be entering into service until the end of 2021, as reported by the BBC.

Northern has come under fire in recent months for delays caused by RMT strike action and Network Rail work as well as poor reliability and overcrowding on its services.

The operator has also faced criticism over the delayed removal of its 40-year-old Pacer trains, although it insists they will gone by the end of the year, and is under pressure to improve its services.

And now due to several platforms at Leeds station still requiring work to lengthen them, part of a £160m upgrade to the station carried out by Network Rail, it has been revealed that the longer services into Leeds at peak times will not be in place until late 2021.

There is some dispute over when Northern and Network Rail knew that the work on the station would not be finished in time for Northern’s new trains.

Network Rail said it committed to the project in 2014, with initial estimates showing that the project could be finished by the end of this year – but in 2017 it decided the redevelopment work could not be finished until the end of 2021.

The DfT said that Northern was told in September 2017 about this delay, with Network Rail also publishing a report including the change.

But the BBC has discovered a letter sent to the managing director of Northern in September last year from the Rail North Partnership also signed by Chris Grayling.

The letter confirmed that the Leeds station project amongst others “will not be available for use at the December 2019 timetable change.”

This means passengers at Leeds will have to wait another two years to benefit from longer trains but six-carriage trains will, however, still run from the end of the year on other parts of Northern’s network.

A spokesman for Northern said: “Network Rail delays to building more platform capacity at Leeds station means that the six carriage formation trains will run when that platform capacity is created, which is expected by December 2021 rather than the original date of December 2019.

“In the meantime, from December 2019, Northern will introduce four carriage, brand new electric trains for customers on the Leeds North West routes, providing a higher standard of customer experience than today.”

The DfT said it was committed to working with Northern to provide an extra 2,000 weekly services.

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