LONG-SUFFERING passengers on Northern’s rail services will not be in the least bit surprised by the latest woeful figures on punctuality. They know better than anybody the annoyance and inconvenience caused by the delays which are a feature of their daily commute.
Yet, even judged by the standards travellers have become accustomed to, Northern’s latest performance is especially dismal. Significantly less than half of services ran on time over the month to November 4, and some trains on busy routes including Harrogate to Leeds never managed to do so at all.
This is no way to run a railway. The figure of only 45.4 per cent of services operating to the timetable marks a new low for Northern and passengers are entitled to ask what is being done to make the trains upon which they are obliged to rely serve them properly.
Nothing like enough, is the totally unsatisfactory answer to that. There is an unedifying mix of factors at work here, all of which combine to create a service that is simply failing to perform anything like adequately.
The shortcomings of Northern itself, with its fleet of reviled Pacers, are being compounded by the problems in Network Rail’s maintenance programme, which is aggravating delays. And presiding over both is a Department for Transport characterised by a lack of leadership and accountability.
In a little under a month, we will have a new Government. Putting the interests of passengers first on the railways must be amongst its most urgent tasks.