The extent to which Yorkshire’s train services have continued to go downhill this year are laid bare in new figures from the region’s biggest operator, which reveal that across the county, only one in three of its trains finished its journey on time last month, and that almost twice as many ran with fewer carriages than in October.
The figures are far worse even than those in the spring, when the botched introduction of new timebables caused wholesale cancellations across the North.
They were published as one of the region’s MPs accused Yorkshire’s train companies of delivering “platitudes and warm words but very little action”.
Paula Sherriff, who represents Dewsbury and will lead a Westminster debate this morning on the performance of train companies in the county, said both Northern and TransPennine Express had Northern and TransPennine had offered an “abysmal” service in November which was “easily as bad as the height of the timetable crisis, and amongst the worst in recent years”.
She said: “I was told that the new timetables had been ‘stress tested’ and that everything would be fine. Instead, what we got was absolute, total and utter chaos.”
Northern Rail admitted that between November 11 and December 8, only a third of trains in Yorkshire reached their destinations on time.
The south and east of the county were worst hit, with punctuality of only 28 per cent.
Its figures, published as part of its contractual requirement, also reveal that more than nine per cent of trains ran with fewer carriages than planned. During the previous four weeks, the figure had been only 5.4 per cent.
The number of cancelled services was also up on the previous period.
David Sidebottom, director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said the inconvenience had been made worse by continual strike action by Northern’s staff.
“Passengers have had to put up with too many delays and cancellations this year,” he said.
Coun Judith Blake, transport spokesman for the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We continue to press the operators and Network Rail to address poor performance and take action to deliver on promised improvements to services across the North.
“Passengers continue to experience poor punctuality and reliability with hundreds of passengers left on station platforms across our region daily because trains arrive with too few carriages.”
Another new timetable was introduced last week, and Coun Blake said she would be “watching closely” to see if it delivered a more reliable service.
Northern said last night: “Thankfully, we are now starting to see an improvement in conditions and a reduction in disruption to our customers’ journeys.
A statement from the company acknowledged: “The service we have been able to provide has not been at the level we expect, or our customers deserve.”
But it went on to blame “excess leaves on the line and cold, wet weather” for causing continued problems and taking “several carriages” out of service.
A spokesman said: “Unfortunately the conditions of the past month have been unprecedented and, on some days, have resulted in more than 30 carriages having to be removed from the network.”
But Ms Sherriff accused the company of having either “a very strange sense of humour” or being “incredibly dense” for launching an advertising campaign warning that trains would be “departing the station, to the second”.
She said: “We are seeing many turning back to their cars. Falling passenger numbers require action to boost confidence and accessibility to the rail network, which has sadly not been forthcoming.”