Rail service improvements and disruptions

04.06.18

Disruption updates: Burnham calls for compensation, MPs write to Grayling

The former shadow health secretary has called for Northern Rail users to receive a temporary fare cut and a “substantial offer of compensation” if they were affected by the disrupted implementation of the new timetables last month.

The Greater Manchester mayor said that rail operator Northern has “left people seriously out of pocket” as a result of the series of delayed and cancelled lines, of which a further 165 services over the next two months will be scrapped in an effort to stabilise the services.

Northern has cancelled over 2,000 services since the new timetables began on 20 May, with another 200 cancelled or delayed on Friday.

Andy Burnham, who is due to discuss plans of action with Transport for the North (TfN) today, said fines should be levied on the struggling rail firms who are not prepared to fund a compensation packages and reduce fares voluntarily.

“Northern have already left people seriously out of pocket and turned their lives upside down with their chaotic services. I have heard countless stories of people forking out for taxis, hire cars, hotels and extra child care but unable to get compensation for it,” said Burnham.

Burnham noted that passengers must be properly and fully compensated, adding: “There must also be a general reduction in fares for all passengers on routes affected by these changes. Northern are set to benefit financially from this emergency timetable. It is the company, and not the passengers, who should pay the price for their mismanagement.”

Today, managing director at Northern David Brown told the BBC the new timetables needed time to ‘bed in,’ apologised to consumers and said passengers will be properly compensated.

But the emergency timetable brought in by rail providers including Greater Northern, GTR, and Southern rail, in addition to Northern, was seen as a “last chance saloon” by Burnham.

He commented: “They are causing too much damage to the economy of the North to be allowed to inflict their miserable, unreliable services on us any longer. If they are not providing the promised new May timetable by early August, then steps should be taken to strip the franchise from them.”

On Friday, Burnham said transport secretary Chris Grayling, who is set to make a statement regarding the plans for the struggling rail providers in the Commons today at 5:15 BST, was ‘asleep at the wheel’ in his handling of the crisis.

MPs write to Grayling over significant’ problems with timetable disruption

Several MPs have written to the transport secretary to air their complaints with “significant” problems on the Thameslink, Southern, and Greater Northern rail providers.

Govia Thameslink Railway have removed around 230 of its 3,600 daily services to make for a “more consistent timetable,” a spokesman said today.

But MPs from London, Befordshire and Sussex have labelled GTR an “abject failure” and complained of being contacted by constituents late for work, medical appointments, or family requirements due to the tumultuous implementation of the emergency timetable.

“Many of us have been contacted by constituents who have been late for work, medical appointments or to meet their children due to train cancellations,” the letter wrote.

"This anger has only been worsened by poor communication between GTR and passengers regarding delays, with reports that GTR have known of cancellations hours before informing customers.

"There have been widespread reports of overcrowding on platforms and on trains, as well as significant issues faced by disabled passengers needing to travel."

Earlier today, Grayling cancelled a planned meeting with venting MPs to discuss the disastrous overhaul of timetables on the Northern, Greater Northern, GTR, and Southern Rail links ahead of his announcement to the commons today.

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