Transport secretary Chris Grayling has said tackling the ‘unacceptable’ performance of rail firm Northern is his department’s number one performance priority.
It follows a request from Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham for Mr Grayling and Transport for the North (TfN) to consider whether Northern had breached it franchise obligations and serious disruption this week after the introduction of a new timetable.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said that urgent plans to tackle poor performance have been submitted Mr Grayling and rail minister Jo Johnson.
It said rail minister Jo Johnson is leading discussions about the issue with TfN chief executive Barry White and ‘has also spoken to’ Mr Burnham.
Mr Grayling said: ‘The level of disruption that passengers have experienced in the north is unacceptable.
‘Improving the service for Northern customers is the number one performance priority for my department and we will work with the industry to keep disruption at a minimum.’
Mr Johnson said: ‘Northern is running hundreds more services now compared to last week, helping deliver the biggest change to rail timetables in a generation.
‘But passengers have been disrupted and there is concern about performance among people who use the railway.’
The DfT said Mr Grayling will be holding a teleconference with northern leaders tomorrow to discuss next steps and that its officials are working urgently with TfN and Northern to improve services.
Measures in the plan include:
- improving driver rostering to get more trains running now
- increasing driver training on new routes to get more services on line as quickly as possible
- additional contingency drivers and management presence at key locations in Manchester
- putting extra peak services in the timetable along the Bolton corridor, including between Buckshaw and Manchester Victoria, and Preston and Manchester Oxford Road