Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has demanded compensation for passengers hit by disruption to Northern rail services as the firm introduced an emergency timetable that will cut 165 trains a day.
Northern said the timetable, which came into force on Monday (4 June), will see 6% of its normal 2,800 daily services removed until the end of July.
Services on many lines will be cut, with trains on the Lakes Line to and from Preston, Lancaster and Oxenholme replaced by a bus service for an initial period of two weeks.
This would ‘start to stabilise service levels over the next few weeks and, importantly, start to reduce the number of last-minute train cancellations’, the rail operator said.
It added that although it will be running fewer services in the short-term, this was ‘still more than we did before the May timetable change’.
On Monday morning the firm reported severe disruption on some lines.
In a letter to John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North, Mr Burnham said he found it ‘staggering’ that Northern’s announcement of the cuts included no mention of ‘proper compensation for passengers’.
Mr Burnham pointed out that many passengers will already be ‘significantly out of pocket’ following the chaos that followed the introduction of a new timetable last month and that they and others will now receive a lower level of service than when they bought advance or season tickets.
He added that in his view the emergency timetable represents the ‘last chance saloon’ for Northern and that if the new timetable introduced in May is not fully operational by early August, steps should be initiated to remove the franchise from the firm.
Speaking on BBC television, Northern’s managing director, David Brown, apologised for the disruption while admitting that it could continue even under the revised timetable. He said that passengers would be compensated but the firm was still working on the details.
Mr Brown repeated the company’s assertion that the primary cause of the disruption was the lack of time that it had to draw up last month’s new timetable, following further delay in electrification work by Network Rail.