So, ten days of the new timetable, and it was to be hoped that it would have settled down by now, and that TPE and Northern would be operating a service similar to the one in the published timetable.
It seems even that, modest as it is, was too much to expect. There has yet to be a single day without multiple cancellations, of both TPEs and Northern’s services.
Northern’s problems have been well-documented, though the determination of both Arriva Northern and the Department for Transport to blame everyone but themselves doesn’t inspire confidence in the commitment (and still less the ability) to fix the problems which they both had a large share in creating.
TPE have not dealt with this well, either. Whilst not all the problems have been of their making – Northern’s driver shortage leaving trains with no drivers clogging up the platforms at Victoria is not something within TPEs control, for example – they have not adapted well to disruption.
It is not acceptable to leave passengers stranded in Stalybridge by cancelling the last leg of a train to Manchester, nor to render the return service close to useless by starting it at Stalybridge not Manchester.
It is not acceptable to miss out stops at Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden and Slaithwaite to make up time on late running services.
It is not acceptable to run a skeleton service on the morning peak into Manchester, with the timings bearing minimal resemblance to the published timetable.
It is not acceptable to create three hour gaps in the service.
It is not acceptable that passengers in the Leeds direction in the peaks see delays of 5 to 10 minutes as good news, although it’s a lot better than Manchester-bound passengers are experiencing.
We cannot remember a week this bad since the unlamented First North Western were franchisees, in the late 1990s.
How and when does this get solved? SMART are just a bunch of passengers, and we don’t have the answer. The worrying thing is that no-one in the railway industry seems to have an answer either.