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Transport ministers told to ‘get a grip’ on ‘appalling’ Northern Rail services

MP's have branded the Northern Rail service as 'appalling'
MP's have branded the Northern Rail service as 'appalling'

Chris Grayling faced fresh demands to improve "appalling" rail services in northern England, amid warnings that more commuters are giving up travelling by train.

Labour's Kate Green questioned when the Transport Secretary and his ministerial team will "get a grip" of the Northern franchise, adding she
would prefer it to be scrapped.

John Fearnley

John Fearnley

Stephanie Peacock, Labour MP for Barnsley East, also hit out at the use of "trains that belong in museums" on routes to Leeds and Sheffield from
her south Yorkshire constituency.

A timetable overhaul implemented during the summer crippled services for tens of thousands of Northern rail passengers, with further concerns
raised over the future of work to electrify the Manchester to Leeds route.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Green, Stretford and Urmston, said: "Every week I'm contacted by constituents who are giving up travelling by train to work because of the appalling service they receive from Northern Rail.

"When will ministers get a grip of or preferably scrap this failingfranchise?"

Elizabeth O'leary

Elizabeth O'leary

Rail minister Jo Johnson replied: "At the request of Transport for the North in one of its recent board meetings, we have appointed jointly
Richard George - who previously played an important role in the delivery of the London Olympic Games - to coordinate better the performance of
the train operators in the north of England, Northern and TransPennine

Express alongside Network Rail to ensure that the system is better coordinated in the north.

"We're looking forward to seeing the results of his work. I met him yesterday and he has a hard-driving agenda to put in place."

Ms Peacock earlier said: "It costs over GBP150 to commute to Leeds and Sheffield from Barnsley, yet trains that belong in museums are often
delayed and packed to dangerous capacity.

David Turrell

David Turrell

"When will the Government get a grip and invest in northern transport?"

Mr Johnson said the Government was investing in new rolling stock, noting this would result in all trains either being replaced or fully
refurbished.
We asked train users to share their experiences of using Northern services.

John Fearnley, 62, from Swansea said: “I travel a reasonable amount on the trains. I had trouble in December last year, we took a four day break to York and they were all running late out of York, and I presume probably in too. The government need to get into gear, Chris Grayling needs to rattle a few cages. At the end of the day, it’s a public service and it's something they should be proud of. Something needs to be done.”

Elizabeth O’leary, 26, from Gainsborough said: “I use the trains sporadically over the last three or four months when visiting parents. It gives me a lot of travel anxiety if they’ve been cancelled or delayed. It’s pretty bad, more than likely you’ll be disrupted. It’s also expensive for the service you get. The staff are nice and friendly, which makes a difference to your journey. I’m not comfortable with commuting, I don't trust it from Gainsborough. If I were to get a job in Sheffield I’d have to move straight away I wouldn’t want to put the job at risk.”

Karen Wright

Karen Wright

David Turrel, 71, from Chesterfield said: “I used to travel the other way, towards Essex but now I travel up here to see my granddaughter and go to Meadowhall. I have found the trains well kept, the staff are presentable and enjoyed travelling. It was only recently when I went to Meadowhall and there wasn’t a train in sight. It’s mainly good with pleasant staff.”

Karen Wright, 54, from Driffield said: “I’ve faced lots of problems, during the recent strike there was no end of problems. Me and my daughter had a spa day booked, and they took the early train off, then coming back they took off the 25 past six train, the latest one was 25 past three It was a nightmare. A few times they’ve been cancelled, and when they do come the carriages are tiny!”

Geoff Driver, 78, from Barnsley said: “They need to sort it out. It's gone from bad to worse, and I can see it getting even worse. They’ve removed the guards, and bringing in the self-service machines. It’s pushing people out of jobs.”

Karen Wright, 54, from Driffield said: “I’ve faced lots of problems, during the recent strike there was no end of problems. Me and my daughter had a spa day booked, and they took the early train off, then coming back they took off the 25 past six train, the latest one was 25 past three It was a nightmare. A few times they’ve been cancelled, and when they do come the carriages are tiny!”

Geoff Driver

Geoff Driver