Lateness and Cancellation Data, First Two Weeks Of New Timetable

Here’s a spreadsheet showing the late running, cancellations and part-cancellations at Slaithwaite and Marsden over the first two weeks of the new timetable.

Red is cancellations, and there’s quite a bit of that. Blue is part cancellations, in the form of trains terminating at or starting at Stalybridge. Not possible to pick these up from the week of 20-27 May, so it’s actually worse than shown. Yellow is late, by various amounts.

Green is on time. There’s very little green showing.

Two of the supposed advantages of the new timetable were reduced journey times and the ability to put in stop orders on other TPE trains so that Marsden and Slaithwaite passengers were not stranded for hours on end.

Neither of those have materialised. A typical delay of 15 minutes wipes out any reduction in journey time, and where there should have been perhaps 30 stop orders over the last two weeks, it appears there have been just two.

msn_swt_performance (5)

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Northern Rail’s emergency timetable

Following the New Timetable Debacle, Northern Rail has come up with a recovery plan which involves planned cancellations of upwards of 150 trains per day.

No trains which call at Slaithwaite or Marsden are affected.

During the daytime between the peaks, the service between Stalybridge and Victoria is reduced to hourly, so that will mean extended connection times at Stalybridge for the trains calling at Marsden & Greenfield (westbound, connection time increases to 38′) and Mossley & Slaithwaite (eastbound, connection time increases to 53′). Note that at peak times there is still planned to be a half-hourly service between Stalybridge and Victoria.

Whether Northern will be able to operate even the reduced timetable remain to be seen. Their handling of their driver shortage over several months doesn’t inspire confidence.

It’s possible that Northern’s reduction in the number of services may reduce congestion at key points and enable TPE to run a service which more closely resembles their published timetable. We’ll find out from Monday onwards.

Link to revised Northern timetable (main service operated by TPE is unaffected but not included in this timetable) is—Manchester-04—08-June.pdf

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“Too little too late … the trains are still horrendous near Huddersfield”

“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.

He said:

“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.”–trains-still-14729884

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Even The Apology Turned Up Late

After 12 days of meltdown, Northern Rail finally came up with an apology. Or a sort of apology, in which neither they nor the DfT acknowledge the extent to which their actions or failures to act contributed to the present mess.

This is the sort of statement that should have been made on day one, not on day twelve.

Even now, it’s littered with promises of jam tomorrow which we know aren’t going to be fulfilled any time soon.

It’s entirely characteristic of Northern Rail that just with their trains, and with their delay repay claims, the passengers have no idea when or if the apology is ever going to turn up.

Anyway, here’s the joint statement from Network Rail, the DfT, GTR (a train company down south) and Northern.

We are again extremely sorry to all passengers affected by recent disruption, and are setting out how we’re going to improve the service for our customers as quickly as possible.

What has gone wrong?

Demand for rail services since 1994 has more than doubled to over 1.7bn journeys. While this has been very welcome, it has also brought its challenges and some of our busiest routes are operating at capacity, particularly during peak times. To facilitate the extra services to satisfy the huge growth in demand, the railway is undergoing its biggest modernisation since the Victorian era. And the new timetable, introduced on Sunday 20 May, was planned to be the most ambitious in recent railway history, providing additional capacity for tens of thousands more peak-time commuters.

In order to make space on the network for the thousands of extra services, the timing of all GTR and most Northern services had to be changed. All of these new journeys needed to be individually approved by Network Rail to ensure the national rail network runs safely and smoothly. Unfortunately, as a result of the sheer number of changes required and the late running of some engineering improvements, the process took longer than anticipated, approvals for service changes were delayed and some timetable requests were changed.

Whilst circumstances differ across the country, this meant that train companies had much less time to prepare for the new timetable which required trains and drivers to run on different routes. The differences between the timetables submitted and those approved created a requirement for training that had not been anticipated. This meant that the necessary specialist training was not able to be completed in time for drivers to learn new routes and for operators to address all the logistical challenges.

What are we going to do to put it right?
Network Rail, Northern and GTR are urgently working on comprehensive plans to reduce disruption and give passengers the greatest possible certainty of train services, so they can better plan ahead. Unfortunately, it will take some time to deliver significant improvements to services, but we will keep passengers up to date on all changes we make. 

What are we doing to ensure it won’t happen again?
We are reviewing how timetable changes are introduced to better understand the root causes of exactly what went wrong here, so that future changes can implemented more smoothly.

How are we making this up to customers?
Passengers are encouraged to apply for Delay Repay compensation for affected journeys and we are working hard to respond to all claims as soon possible.

Mark Carne, Network Rail’s chief executive said: 

“There is no doubt that the May timetable was finalised significantly later than normal for reasons that were both within and without our control. The consequences of that have been particularly hard for both Northern and GTR to absorb.

“But we are all firmly focussed on fixing this issue as quickly as possible to give passengers the reliable service they need and deserve. At the moment, in some parts of the country, that simply isn’t happening and for that I’d like to wholeheartedly apologise.”

Charles Horton, CEO, GTR, said: 

“We always said that delivering the biggest timetable change in generations would be challenging – but we are sorry that we have not been able to deliver the service that passengers expect. Delayed approval of the timetable led to an unexpected need to substantially adjust our plans and resources. We fully understand that passengers want more certainty and are working very hard to bring greater consistency to the timetable as soon as possible. We will also be working with industry colleagues to establish a timetable that will progressively deliver improvement.”

David Brown, Managing Director, Northern said: 

“We are doing everything we can to minimise cancellations and keep customers informed. It has been extremely difficult for many of our customers, in particular on a number of routes around north Manchester, Liverpool, and Blackpool extending up to Cumbria, and we are truly sorry for this.

“We‘ve agreed a number of actions with the Department for Transport and are urgently working with them on a comprehensive plan to stabilise our services. Such a plan is likely to take a number of weeks to deliver lasting improvements, but we recognise our customers deserve better and that’s what we’re focused on.”

In due course, the Thameslink Programme and the investment programmes on Northern will provide more capacity and reliability as intended, with more trains running more regularly and more reliably to more destinations. But these services will only be re-introduced when we can do so reliably without any negative effect on the service. The industry continues to be confident that the new timetables will work well once bedded-in. 

We thank you for your patience and apologise again for the delays in rolling out the new timetable. Everyone in the rail industry is working together to provide a safe, improved and reliable service.

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