Transport Secretary Grant Shapps demands 'immediate explanation' from TransPennine Express over January cancellations

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Downing Street has dubbed cancellations chaos on TransPennine Express trains across Yorkshire as “totally unacceptable” with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps demanding an urgent meeting on the issue.

Delays and cancellations on the services at the end of 2019 have rolled over into the New Year with hundreds of services scrapped in January due to delays to the roll-out of new trains.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak arriving in Downing Street for the first Cabinet meeting of the year. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak arriving in Downing Street for the first Cabinet meeting of the year. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The cancellations will affect trains to Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, the North East and Scotland and TransPennine has apologised and announced a compensation scheme.

But today the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “These cancellations are totally unacceptable. We understand how frustrating this is for passengers who should not have to put up with these levels of poor performance.

“The Transport Secretary has demanded immediate explanations, from the operator, Network Rail, and the rolling stock manufacturers, and will be convening an urgent meeting to work out how they will improve services for passengers.

“We will not tolerate continued significant reductions to services and will not hesitate to take action if they fail to meet their contractual obligations.”

But Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said the situation showed the privatised rail system was “simply not fit for purpose”.

He said: "The wholesale cancellation of TransPennine Express services with the dire excuse of non-delivery of rolling stock and trained driver shortages is as shameful as it is pathetic.

“Where was the planning and preparation? This fractured, fragmented privatised rail system is simply not fit for purpose."

TransPennine Express Managing Director, Leo Goodwin, said: "We know that our performance was not up to scratch at the end of last year and for this we really do apologise.

"We have experienced a number of issues following the introduction of our new trains, resulting in disruption to a number of our customers journeys with us.

“I would like to thank our customers for continuing to travel with us and it is only right that we compensate them for the recent disruption.”