Northern: Many cancelled services resuming after timetable chaos

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northern trainImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The firm is reinstating 75% of the routes it withdrew after its new timetable caused disruption.

Services cancelled following a timetable shake-up at Northern rail have begun running again.

Northern scrapped 168 services per day last month to try to relieve chaos caused by the timetable’s initial introduction in May.
Services in Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire are partially resuming while all trains on the Lakes Line in Cumbria are being reinstated by Northern.
The remaining 25% of its cancelled trains do not restart until September.

northern many cancelled services resuming after timetable chaos 1
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Media captionWhat went wrong with the timetable changes?

Thousands of passengers have applied for compensation from Northern, which made the first pay-outs last week.
The company, which has faced calls for it to be stripped of its franchise, says a “more gradual” reintroduction of its timetable will ensure a more stable and reliable service.
David Brown, managing director at Northern, said the cancellations since 4 June had been an attempt to alleviate “significant disruption” caused by the nationwide introduction of the new timetable in May.
He added: “Whilst we are ready to reintroduce all 168 daily services, given the need to drive further improvements across Manchester, we have agreed to a more gradual reintroduction of our services.
“A phased introduction is the right approach to ensure a more stable and reliable service for customers.”

Services being reintroduced on Monday:

  • Lakes Line: All services
  • Blackpool: All services from Blackpool to Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Blackpool: Seventeen services a day, out of 30, between Blackpool South and Colne, via Preston
  • Lancashire: Ten daily services, out of 16, between Ormskirk and Preston
  • Lancashire: All 24 services on the Lancaster to Morecambe line
  • Lancashire: All four services between Preston and Blackburn
  • Manchester: Four services a day, of 10 removed, from Kirkby to Manchester Victoria via Wigan
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However, some passengers were still encountering delays and cancellations earlier.
David Jenkins tweeted: “First train for 2 months and they cancel it two mins after it’s meant to arrive.”

Rail trouble timeline

20 May – A rail timetable overhaul – billed as the biggest in the UK – begins
4 June – Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway remove hundreds of trains in an “interim timetable” to deal with the chaos on the rail network
4 June – Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announces compensation for commuters and an inquiry into what went wrong
15 June – Govia Thameslink chief executive Charles Horton resigns
18 July – It is announced a new rail ombudsman is to be set up to handle complaints from passengers about train travel
30 July – 75% of Northern services cancelled following the timetable shake-up begin running again

Image copyright Thomas Nugent/Geograph

Dave Guest, BBC News at Preston Railway Station

On Preston station this morning there was some scepticism among delay-weary travellers as to whether Northern has finally sorted things out.
One frustrated commuter told us her train from Lytham never materialised adding: “First day of the new timetable and it’s out of the window.”
Indeed the departure boards did show a number of cancellations and delays, though not nearly as many as in previous weeks.
Another traveller told us hopefully: “Maybe the recent trouble has just been a blip.”

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Media caption‘I’m constantly late for work’

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has written to the prime minister, asking her to personally intervene over the “chaos” caused by Northern this summer.
He said: “People could have legitimately expected, when fewer trains were running, that at least the ones that were running would be on time, well they haven’t been. The emergency timetable didn’t solve anything.
“And then on Saturday night, nine o’clock an email lands saying Northern will cancel 47 services tomorrow so we can get trains in the right place for Monday morning.
“Even if trains do run better today it’s because there were no services yesterday.
“Speak to any commuter in the north west of England and they will tell you that Northern services were poor for a long time before the new timetable came in and they haven’t got much better in the two months since.”

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Image copyright Stephen Pimlott
Image caption Rail users expressed their frustrations at Manchester Piccadilly

A government spokesman said: “The Rail North Partnership has accepted the rail industry’s recommendation to phase in services from Monday when 75% of the Northern train services removed during the interim timetable will be reintroduced.
“This is in addition to further adjustments to timetables to improve reliability, so that passengers can better plan ahead.”
He added that Mr Burnham sits on the board of Transport for the North “which jointly manages the Northern franchise through the Rail North Partnership”.

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Media captionJune: Northern passengers say delays are ‘a joke’

In May, what was billed as the biggest ever overhaul of rail timetables led to significant and widespread rail disruption.
The timetable overhaul – for Northern as well as Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) lines – was aimed at improving punctuality and boosting capacity, but instead led to a huge number of train services being cancelled or severely delayed.
Northern and GTR had to remove hundreds of trains in a temporary timetable change to deal with the chaos on the rail network.

Services to be reintroduced in September:

  • Blackpool: The remaining 13 services between Blackpool South and Colne, via Preston
  • Lancashire: The remaining six services between Ormskirk and Preston
  • Lancashire: The six Blackburn to Southport services
  • Manchester: The remaining six services from Kirkby to Manchester Victoria via Wigan
  • Manchester: The 12 Manchester Victoria to Stalybridge services

Last month, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling defended his handling of the saga and announced an inquiry into what went wrong.
The inquiry, by transport professor Stephen Glaister, will look at the implementation of the new timetable. A final report will be published by December.
The Transport Select Committee is also asking for evidence from passengers and as well as rail industry groups.
Train timetables are usually changed twice a year, in summer and winter, but normally on a much smaller scale.
A rail timetable overhaul planned for December has since been scaled back amid fears of a repeat of the chaos seen in May.

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Source: BBC

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