IT’S fair to say that over the last few months, rail customers on some routes in the North have experienced significant disruption following the introduction of a major timetable change by a number of train operators.
I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it until we have this sorted; I am truly sorry to anyone that has been affected by this. I frequently travel on our services and speak to customers on board and I am fully aware of the impact that this has had on some people’s lives.
I read the comment piece by Tom Richmond in The Yorkshire Post on Saturday and hope I can now provide more balance to this.
The most important thing is we continue to resolve the issues and fully restore the level of service customers expect and deserve.
To those that travel with us, it may not appear that we have taken immediate action to address the issues since May.
However, behind the scenes, we have been working with Network Rail and other rail operators on a joint plan to improve the punctuality and resilience of train services in the North.
It’s really important that we all work together on this because around three-quarters of the delays to our services which have occurred since May have been caused by factors which are outside our direct control, principally infrastructure faults and delays on services run by other rail operators which have caused knock-on delays to TransPennine Express trains.
As a result of these joint plans, over the past week, we’ve started to see some notable improvements in performance following the phased reintroduction of Northern services.
Northern had adopted a temporary timetable which was put in place alongside positive changes made by Network Rail including a change to their train regulating policy on the East Coast Main Line (which decides the order that different trains run in and how long they stop at signals for).
Our trains to and from Scarborough in particular have started to benefit from these changes.
This is positive progress, but there is still more to be done.
The railway in central Manchester is more congested than ever before which has had an effect on our services, all of which run through the city.
We are working hard with Network Rail and other rail operators to address this issue.
Our customers, including members of rail user groups, have quite rightly contacted us about the performance of our services and all of their correspondence has been responded to.
We have also attended various public meetings where people have had the chance to ask questions and raise concerns about these issues directly with us.
Our priority is to deliver the best possible level of service for our passengers.
Later this year, customers across Yorkshire will begin travelling on the first of our £500m Nova trains – with this futuristic fleet being the newest in the UK.
In a couple of weeks time, building work will begin on a new £7m maintenance depot for these trains, which is situated just outside Scarborough station.
With such positive and transformational changes just around the corner, our priority now is working with the rest of the rail industry to fully restore the reliability of all services.
I want to assure customers across the North of England that this is our number one priority and I thank them for their patience.
Leo Goodwin is managing director of TransPennine Express.