Northern Rail has announced temporary changes to its timetable which will affect services in Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth.
The train operator, which has faced huge criticism and calls for it to give up its franchise, said it was introducing the emergency timetable to help reduce last minute cancellations.
Many services on the Lancater and Morecambe line will be removed until July, and for an initial period of two weeks, all services on the Lakes Line to and from Preston, Lancaster and Oxenholme will operate with a replacement bus service. South Lakes MP Tim Farron called the move a “disgrace”, and said the company had “simply given up”.
The company has apologies to passengers, who have faced delays and cancellations to their journeys following the introduction of a new timetable.
Lancaster City Coun John Reynolds, who represents Carnforth and Millhead, said he had written to transport secretary Chris Grayling to voice the concerns of the town.
He said: “I’m grateful to the many Carnforth Station users who have contacted me about the Northern Rail crisis.
“Many people rely on the services that operate from Carnforth Station for work, school and college and to connect them to other national rail services.
“I’ve been told stories of delayed and cancelled services leaving people, young children too, standing on stations waiting for rail services that are never going to come.
“We need a real train service. This is an absolute disgrace, too much apologising and not enough action.
“I have raised your concerns with the transport secretary and urged him to act quickly.”
Mr Farron said: “This is disgraceful – Northern have simply given up. If they can’t run the service, then it should be turned over to someone who can. I’ve secured an urgent meeting with the rail minister Jo Johnson for Monday. It’s simply not on for there to be no trains for two weeks – if not longer. The hundreds of people who rely on the line to get to school and work and the thousands of tourists who use it to get to a World Heritage Site deserve better.”
David Brown, managing director, Northern said: “We have been experiencing some significant disruption to train services, especially around north Manchester, Bolton, Liverpool, Blackpool and up to the Lake District. I’d like to apologise for this unacceptable situation and for the disruption and inconvenience many passengers have faced. We’re truly sorry for this and are working hard to fix this.”
Read a commuter account HERE
Northern have put forward their reasoning for the problems:
Northern’s new timetable was designed to provide extra services, making use of our growing train fleet and infrastructure upgrades including the Ordsall Chord, at Liverpool Lime St and between Manchester and Blackpool. However, the timetable had to be planned and delivered in four months compared to the normal 9-12 months.
This was because in January 2018 it was announced that there would be a further delay in delivery of the electrification of the Manchester-Preston via Bolton line, bringing the delay to two years. As a result of this announcement we had to totally rewrite our timetable plan and then plan and deliver significant levels of complex driver training on new routes and to operate different trains. This has caused us to have a reduction in availability of drivers to run our scheduled train services whilst they complete their training, and this has resulted in the significant number of last minute cancellations.
One area I wanted to clarify is the position on train drivers, and to explain that we actually have more drivers than we need to run a full timetable in normal circumstances. We currently have 1,529 train drivers, 180 more than when we started the franchise.
We are having to complete a significant amount of driver training as a result of the delayed Blackpool electrification programme, and a large number of additional last-minute route changes as a result of the May timetable. The interim timetable will enable us to accelerate the completion of this training.