Many services restored on Northern

SERVICES on Northern have improved today, with three-quarters of the trains removed at the start of June returning to the timetable.

They include services on the Lakes Line between Oxenholme and Windermere, where local businesses are reported to have been feeling the effects of the lack of trains at what should be the busiest time of the year.

However, with more than 40 trains still not running, the Mayor of Manchester has written a letter of protest to the Prime Minister, asking her to intervene.

Andy Burnham 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.”

Today’s partial restoration is deliberately cautious, although the rest of the timetable should return in September.

Northern has been declining media requests for interviews today, but managing director David Brown issued a statement, in which he said: “The May timetable caused significant disruption for customers on some routes on our network and we’re truly sorry for that. We introduced an interim timetable on a number of routes from 4 June, and that has enabled us to accelerate our driver training, stabilise service levels, improve performance and significantly reduce last-minute cancellations.”

“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.”

The Department for Transport is continuing to monitor the situation on Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway, where services were also cut back in June after the new timetables introduced on 20 May turned out to be unachievable.

The problems on Northern have been attributed at least in part to the late-running Network Rail project to electrify the line between Manchester, Bolton and Preston, which is not yet completed.

The DfT said: “The disruption that Northern passengers have experienced is unacceptable and it is vital that services continue to improve and passengers are compensated fully.”

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