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Grayling must ‘immediately intervene’ on Northern performance

The government must escalate its response to the Northern rail “fiasco”, according to the mayor of Greater Manchester.

Andy Burnham is calling on the transport secretary today to intervene after new figures showed that the franchise’s performance has deteriorated over the past week.

Since Northern implemented its improvement plan, services across Greater Manchester have deteriorated, with at least 147 trains cancelled or part-cancelled since Tuesday 22 May. By Wednesday 29 May, that figure had almost doubled to 281.

Today, Burnham will speak to transport secretary Chris Grayling to demand that he urgently intervenes to improve Northern services this week, or else take steps to strip Arriva of the franchise.

Burnham explained: “Last week we were told that Northern were implementing an improvement plan. We now know that a week on, rather than getting better, services are actually getting worse.”

He said that in a previous conversation with Grayling he had told him that passengers could not continue to endure the “miserable sub-standard service they had been facing for too long.”

However, since then he said that the service has continued to decline, which he called “nothing short of a scandal.”

“Northern’s performance is getting worse on this government’s watch and it is not acceptable. 

“Ministers seems oblivious to the scale of this chaos and the impact this is having on people’s jobs and social lives on a daily basis.

“It’s time that the transport secretary immediately intervened to improve services for Northern passengers.”

The mayor concluded: “Northern’s freefall shown no signs of slowing down, never mind improving, and if things don’t change very quickly the Transport Secretary should seriously consider showing the operator the door.”

Yesterday, RTM reported that Grayling has written to MPs vowing to rectify the “wholly unsatisfactory” levels of disruption to rail services following the introduction of new services.

Last week, Network Rail and Northern announced that they will commission an independent report into the processes leading up to the recent timetable changes.

David Brown, manning director of Northern, apologised for the disruption, stating that the company has agreed a number of actions for the Department for Transport (DfT), and are urgently working on comprehensive plans to stabilise services.

“Such a plan is likely to take a number of weeks to deliver lasting improvements, but we recognise our customers deserve better and that’s what we’re focused on,” he said.

Top image: Peter Byrne, PA Wire


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