“Too little too late … the trains are still horrendous near Huddersfield”
[From the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 31 May 2018]
A train firm’s apology for its disastrous performance over the past two weeks, is “too little, too late”, a rail action group has said.
Operator Northern has hit the headlines after hundreds of trains were cancelled or delayed since timetable changes that began on May 20.
The peak of the disruption was on ‘Meltdown Monday’, the first working day following the new schedule when there were 160 cancellations and more than 213 delays.
Passengers on the line between Huddersfield and Manchester have continued to be affected as a stunning 281 services were cancelled on Tuesday.
Yesterday, Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, criticised the firm and said the rail industry had failed passengers.
Many commentators in turn have accused Mr Grayling of failing to ensure a satisfactory performance for the public.
This morning, Northern issued an apology in a joint statement with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Rail, a train firm in the south east that is experiencing similar issues.
Gary Godolphin from Slaithwaite and Marsden Action on Rail Transport (SMART) said commuters from the Colne Valley had been severely disrupted by Northern’s problems.
And he revealed TransPennine Express, which took over the majority of the services earlier this month, had also been failing passengers by not calling at the scheduled stops in the Colne Valley.
“It became apparent during the first week of the change that there were serious issues. The apology should have come a lot earlier, it is too little, too late.
“The train companies, particularly Northern, have done themselves no favours with some of their decisions.
“There is blame to be had by a number of organisations and individuals and I would include Mr Grayling in that.”
Mr Godolphin revealed Colne Valley passengers had been let down by both companies.
“There’s been horrendous problems,” he said.
“There’s been significant problems both at Slaithwaite and Marsden, towards Leeds and Manchester.
“We’ve seen cancellations on both Northern and TransPennine Express.
“During the first week of the new timetable we had three hours where there was no services.
“People have not been able to get to work, to collect their children and then they’re finding it difficult to get home, particularly from Manchester Piccadilly.
“The 5pm Northern service has been getting cancelled and so people can’t get home.
“This then causes capacity issues on the later services.
“We’ve also seen Transpennine Express not calling at Slaithwaite when they are due to.
“This is particularly disappointing because we have had a senior manager say that stop orders would be arranged if services had been disrupted to make extra stops in the Colne Valley on the next scheduled express service.
“Services to Manchester have been terminating at Stalybridge and not going to Piccadilly because the trains have been delayed so much they want to turn them around to make up time.”
A spokesperson for TransPennine Express said:
“We can confirm that stop orders are being made at Marsden and Slaithwaite, where possible.
“Unfortunately, there have been some cancellations and delays to our trans-Pennine services recently due to industry operational issues.
“We are working together with our partners to improve this.”
Rail users on the Calder Valley line, including from Brighouse, have also been heavily affected by the disruption.
The Halifax and District Rail Action Group (HADRAG) is welcoming passengers who want to air their views to its annual meeting at St Paul’s Church, Tower Hill, Sowerby Bridge from 10am on Saturday.
Chair of HADRAG Stephen Waring said:
“Nobody I have spoken to can recall services being disrupted so badly in the past by a timetable change.
“We saw nothing like this when all times changed across the North in 2014, nor at previous recasts either on the privatised railway or under British Rail.”