'Outrageous' Northern rail forgets Yorkshire and only apologises to north-west passengers

Northern rail has apparently forgotten to apologise to Yorkshire passengers who were hit with unprecedented delays and cancellations during the timetabling chaos this year.

In response to a scathing report from the Office for Rail and Road regulator into the fiasco, Northern said it was "deeply sorry for the unacceptable disruption caused to our customers in the north west of England".

But delays and cancellations fanned out across Northern's network, which runs through Leeds, York, Bradford, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Doncaster and all the way to Hull, following the botched introduction of new timetables on May 20.

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Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake, who is a member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “It is nothing short of outrageous that Northern should confine its apology about the May timetable disruption to passengers in the North West.

“Rail passengers across the North of England who were left waiting on platforms, who missed important business meetings, lost valuable family time and continue to experience substandard levels of services will rightly be angry at this statement.

“It confirms my view that we urgently need a rail system for the North of England, accountable to the North, which puts passengers first.”

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin: “This lack of acknowledgement of the months of overcrowding, cancellations and delays the people of Yorkshire faced is deeply disappointing for those who endured misery on a daily basis.

“But ultimately the buck stops with the Government and Transport Minister Chris Grayling. The Office of Rail and Road report that was released this week revealed that ‘no one took charge’ through the summer chaos.

Northern rail has been criticised by Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake for failing to apologise to passengers in Yorkshire for the timetable chaos.

“And now we are faced with another long-winded review to tell us what we already know – rail is broken.

“The only thing that is going to fix our failing railways is to bring them back under public ownership.”

Northern said in its statement: "Northern is deeply sorry for the unacceptable disruption caused to our customers in the north west of England following the introduction of the new timetable on Sunday 20 May 2018. We apologise unreservedly to our customers who did not receive the service they deserve in affected areas.

"Our team worked hard to stabilise services by putting in place an interim timetable on some routes in North-West England from 4 June 2018, withdrawing 165 of our 2,800 daily services on a temporary basis to provide more certainty to customers. We have reinstated 151 of those 165 services. Punctuality has also steadily improved, with 87 per cent of services arriving on schedule over the first two weeks of September 2018.

"Customers holding season tickets are receiving compensation for the disruption they experienced under a special scheme – and last week the Department for Transport announced that the Delay Repay compensation scheme would be improved from December.

"Northern accepts that many customers had insufficient information about disruption following the introduction of the May timetable and is committed to significantly improving information for customers. This includes investing over £5 million on new information screens and public address systems at stations to improve the provision of information for customers.

"The ORR Report has confirmed that the root cause of the timetable disruption was delays to engineering projects to improve the railway. Normally, train operators are given 40 weeks to plan the twice-yearly introduction of a new timetable. However, due to delayed engineering projects in North-West England, Northern had to entirely re-write its May 2018 timetable in just 16 weeks.

"Northern will now consider in detail the findings in the ORR Report. We want to learn the lessons of the May timetable disruption and will be working closely with other organisations across the rail industry to ensure new timetabling is implemented as effectively as possible for customers in the future."