West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has called on the Prime Minister to end the misery of thousands of rail passengers across the north, and take the franchise off Northern.
MP Rosie used her slot on Wednesday when she opened Prime Minister’s Questions by challenging Theresa May to intervene and resolve the rail issues commuters have had to endure for most of 2018.
Northern have operated less than two-thirds of their routes in the period 21 May to 24 November.
Residents have written to Rosie about their terrible experiences such as being left stranded on platforms due to the last train of the night being cancelled, losing their jobs due to being late for work and parents not seeing their children because of the additional commute times.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister was not entirely convincing that things will change, pointing to a review by Richard George which is being undertaken, but did state “where operators are found to be at fault, we will take action.”
Rosie Cooper MP said:
“I have been deluged with reports from residents about poor service, no service and no refunds for much of 2018.
“If Northern are only operating to a two-thirds capacity, then I believe passengers should not be forced to pay full price for their tickets.
“I don’t believe that many politicians including the Transport Secretary and the Prime Minister realise how bad the situation is here in the North.
“Northern have a government rail franchise and are simply not delivering and causing misery for commuters and their families through their deplorable service.
“We had Monday Meltdown in May, but for my West Lancashire constituents there has not been an improvement as they’re forced on to rail replacement buses, miss trains due to overcrowding, and being left stranded on station platforms.
“There is a duty to provide a rail service fit for the needs of passengers, passengers who pay their taxes and pay their fares but seemingly get nothing in return.
“It is time for the Prime Minister to step in and end the Northern franchise and fix this mess.”
I am sure the whole House would want to be associated with the Prime Minister’s remarks.
The misery inflicted on my constituents by Northern rail continues unabated: long waits for already full trains; trains that do not arrive on time; whole-day cancellations; and even the cancellation of last trains, leaving people stranded. There can be no more excuses. This latest Northern rail fiasco began in May, with timetabling and communications issues. Is it not time to get the communications right, and timetable the end of the Northern franchise?
First of all, we are clear as a Government that the performance in the north and the disruption that was caused to rail passengers following the timetable changes that took place on 20 May were unacceptable. It is clear that we saw a combination of delayed Network Rail infrastructure works and reduced time to plan a modified timetable, which meant that the new timetable was finalised too late. We know that passengers are currently not getting the service they deserve, although there are more Northern rail services now than there were earlier this year; but much more needs to be done. We are working alongside Transport for the North, Northern, TransPennine Express and Network Rail on improving services and punctuality. We have asked Richard George to review the performance of the region’s rail network and to make recommendations to improve reliability, and where operators are found to be at fault, we will take action.