“Where’s the TransPennine Express boss? His train service is so bad that commuters miss the old Pacers”

Thanks to Tom Richmond and the Yorkshire Post for being the first, and so far the only, regional newspaper to highlight what an appalling service TransPennine have provided at our stations since the timetable change.

Tom Richmond: Where’s the TransPennine Express boss? His train service is so bad that commuters miss the old Pacers

[from the Yorkshire Post, Saturday 04 August 2018]

TRAIN operator Northern has, rightly, been in the firing line over the continuing chaos on the region’s railways – its record of failure embodies Chris Grayling’s dismal tenureship of the Department for Transport.

Yet First Group’s rapidly deteriorating TransPennine Express franchise, which operates longer distance services, is just as culpable and Scarborough resident Janet Toker performed a very useful service earlier this week by allowing The Yorkshire Post to publish the catalogue of excuses she chronicled over a two-week period.

She’s a human casualty of the disruption which has cost the economy over £35m – and one million lost hours – according the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. And she’s not alone.

Her anguish prompted residents of Slaithwaite and Marsden, two commuter communities served by the main Leeds to Manchester line, to get in touch about their daily nightmare which is damning of the whole rail industry from Mr Grayling to the bosses of rail franchises.

Slaithwaite resident Michael Blake wrote:

“Until May 20 we had an hourly service in both directions run by Northern on ancient rolling stock (Pacers).

“By and large the service, although not perfect, worked pretty well, subject to the Pacers breaking down occasionally because they were clapped-out and the well-known cancellations because of staffing shortages. TPE took over the franchise on May 20 and, since then, the service has fallen apart completely.”

That’s right. The decrepit old Pacers – buses converted to trains – were more reliable than the current service where last-minute cancellations mean passengers are left stranded in either Slaithwaite or Marsden on the way to work, or at Manchester or Leeds for the journey home, for at least an hour, and longer if the next train also does not turn up.

“Residents have now lost all confidence that they can catch a train at the advertised time,”

adds Mr Blake.

It’s a familiar story which needs retelling to remind 10 Downing Street that the Government must now honour Theresa May’s call for further improvements. Yet, after reading reams of emails and correspondence, what angers – and appals – Mr Blake, and his fellow critics, most of all is the near silence, and ambivalence, of TPE managing director Leo Goodwin.

There has been no response of note. This is shameful. His organisation is failing to provide a public service – and all those at the mercy of his trains deserve a full and frank explanation from the man in charge. I hope it is forthcoming by the time that I write next week’s column.


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