More than a million hours have been lost by railway users in the North as a result of the timetable chaos that engulfed the region this summer, a damning report reveals today.
Analysis by George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) reveals the impact on commuters, businesses and families of the botched introduction of a new timetable by operator Northern on May 20.
And it called for more powers to be devolved to regional body Transport for the North after accusing the Government of failing to intervene to prevent the disruption.
The NPP’s analysis shows that for Northern customers alone, 945,180 hours were lost between May 20 and June 30 at an average of 22,504 per day, representing an economic impact of £38m based on the Department for Transport’s own guidelines.
The report’s authors said TransPennine Express did not provide data, meaning the total loss to the northern economy is likely to be far greater.
According to the report, the delays led to employees failing to get to work, missing out on job opportunities or losing their jobs, while parents were unable to put their children to bed and many businesses saw a drastic cut in productivity.
Though the problem was caused by Network Rail failing to complete electrification work on time, none of the parties involved emerged with credit.
Northern and TransPennine were faced with an impossible task but did not do enough to communicate the scale of the disruption, the report says.
And while Northern quickly put in an emergency timetable, which is due to end today, TransPennine did not do so and performed poorly throughout the summer, with more than 15 per cent of its trains late or cancelled on one of its routes.
Only Chris Grayling’s Department for Transport (DfT) had the power to stop the introduction of timetables but did not do so, and the report says the department “did not have nearly enough control or oversight over the Northern Powerhouse railway network”.
Among the report’s recommendations is that strategic transport body TfN takes control of the £3bn Trans Pennine route upgrade and is responsible for all Northern transport spending.
Northern Powerhouse Partnership chair and former Chancellor Mr Osborne said: “This report sets out a clear message to government – the Northern Powerhouse is crying out for more devolution.
“This is the very role we envisaged Transport for the North doing when we set them up; Northern leaders will support them in making sure the people of the Northern Powerhouse get the modern, connected network they deserve.”
Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison, who co-wrote the report, said: “The bottom line is that this must never happen again.”
The Prime Minister has been urged to step in personally to end rail “chaos” in the North.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the intervention was needed as he claimed there were no signs of improvement in services.
In a letter to Theresa May, he wrote that performance on Northern Rail services “continued to be poor” following Mr Grayling’s statement in May that the issue was the number one priority for his department.
Mr Burnham said: ““There are only so many times that I can call on Chris Grayling to do his job and help rail passengers in the north. He has failed to deliver on his promise to make sorting out rail chaos here his top priority and that is why I feel have no choice but to ask the Prime Minister to intervene.”
A DfT spokesperson said: “Whilst progress has been made to improve services for Northern passengers, the disruption they have experienced has been unacceptable and we must continue to see significant improvements.
“An independent inquiry has been launched to establish what went wrong and to ensure this does not happen again and, with Transport for the North, we have set out a comprehensive, industry-funded package of compensation for regular passengers.
“We continue to work with TfN and Network Rail to determine the best way to achieve major improvements for rail passengers between Manchester, Leeds and York, as part of the £3bn upgrade of the Trans-Pennine route being delivered between 2019 and 2024.”
Northern and Trans-Pennine Express did not respond to requests for comment.
On Saturday, Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy told The Yorkshire Post that he was “personally sorry” for his organisation’s role in the chaos.
Sir Peter said in an interview: “None of us in the rail industry ever want to see anything like this again.”
A spokesperson for TransPennine Express said, “Since the start of the new timetable on 20 May we know that many of our customers have had disrupted journeys across the North. There have been delays and cancellations to contend with meaning that people have been late for work, late for appointments, missed flights and missed spending quality time with loved ones. This is not the service that we want to provide and we would like to say a huge sorry to everyone who has been affected.
“We will continue to work alongside other train operators, Network Rail, Transport for the North and the Department for Transport until we put this right, making sure that our customers receive the service that they rightly deserve.”