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NR and Northern to review failures of recent timetable shake-up ahead of December changes

Network Rail and Northern will commission an independent report and recommendations into the processes that led up to the TOC’s recent timetable change which, despite its long-term goal of improving services, has delivered an unacceptable amount of delays and cancellations in the short term.

Although the changes were designed to boost capacity, with more services running in the long term, many customers have in fact faced high levels of delays, cancellations and overcrowding since the timetable shake-up on 20 May.

Network Rail has acknowledged that it has not delivered an acceptable service, particularly on routes around north Manchester, extending up to Blackpool.

The planned report will therefore examine the preparations and processes leading up to the implementation of the change, with customer groups, transport and Northern stakeholders all invited to contribute.

Martin Frobisher, managing director of Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “We recognise how tough it has been for customers, particularly since the May timetable change last weekend and we’re sorry for that.

“We are working hard with Northern to get service back to where it needs to be. We will work as one team to achieve this.”

According to Frobisher, the independent report will ensure that lessons are learned – with no repeats of the current problems as preparations are made for the next major timetable review in December.

Managing director of Northern, David Brown, added: “We are doing everything we can to minimise cancellations and delays and keep our customers informed. It has been difficult for many of our customers and I am truly sorry for this.

“There is urgent work to do to fully understand what did and didn’t work on all aspects of planning and delivery of the new timetable.

“We are committed to working with Network Rail and Northern stakeholders to deliver the services our customers expect and deserve.”

This is in addition to measures announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling this week to salvage the operator’s performance with a clear improvement plan.

Similarly, last week the chair of Transport for the North revealed plans to meet with Brown to develop an improvement plan following a letter of complaint from Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who raised concerns about the recent “unacceptably poor” service.

Top image: Michael McNiven


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