Yorkshire's rail services slammed by combined authority report

More than a quarter of TransPennine Express trains travelling through Leeds and York arrive at their destination late, according to a report from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA).

The authority claims services from both TransPennine Express and Northern operators are “still way below acceptable”, after damning statistics show large numbers of services in Yorkshire fail to arrive on time.

It added 16 per cent of trains running on the York/Leeds/Huddersfield route have been cancelled altogether since new timetables were introduced in May this year, and warned of further risks to services during the autumn.

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The rail industry uses the public performance measure (PPM) which combines figures for punctuality and reliability into a single performance figure.

For TransPennine Express it covers services arriving at their destination within 10 minutes of their planned arrival time and for Northern within five minutes of their planned arrival time.

TransPennine Express’s northern services only achieved 73 per cent PPM between April and September this year.

Northern saw 87 per cent PPM on its services during the same period – this was compared to 95 per cent during the previous year.

It follows problems throughout the summer after new timetables were introduced, with thousands of services in the north cancelled or severely delayed.

The report read: “Whilst there has been a small improvement overall since the withdrawal of the emergency timetable in the North West at the end of July, performance is still well below acceptable.”

It added that, since the new timetables were introduced, an average of one in 40 trains had been cancelled and one in 20 operated in the region with fewer carriages than planned.

It stated: “Whilst overall this performance is better than the average across the north, this masks the fact that some routes such as Calder Valley have experienced a high level of delay and cancellation whereas other routes less so.

“Performance in August/early September showed some signs of improvement following actions taken by Network Rail with regard to signalling and train regulation at Leeds, Manchester on East Coast mainline. However performance is still well below acceptable.”

The report warned that autumn would bring “further risks” to rail performance due to the effect of leaves falling on tracks, but that train operators and Network Rail had assured WYCA plans had been made to mitigate this.

Work to improve Northern Rail services included “intensive” driver route training and introducing new rolling stock to the system.

However, the report also claimed TransPennine Express had proposed to run peak time services with fewer carriages between September and December this year, in order to free up units for other services to limit cancellations. This was rejected by WYCA’s transport committee due to concerns about overcrowding.

The WYCA report will be discussed at a full meeting of the authority on Thursday.