‘Things are getting better for rail commuters’ says Northern

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“Things are getting better,” for Northern rail commuters, according to one of the operator’s senior executives.

A letter from the company’s stakeholder manager to Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett, said that everyone at the organisation was “working to put us back where we should be”.

Passengers in the Wakefield district and beyond have suffered months of delays and cancellations after the botched introduction of a new rail timetable in May.

Among the worst hit routes has been the Sheffield to Leeds service, which calls at Moorthorpe, Fitzwilliam, Sandal and Agbrigg, Wakefield Westgate and Outwood.

Complaints from constituents prompted Mr Trickett to write to Northern about the chaos.

In his response, Pete Myers repeated the company’s claim that delayed electrification in Manchester was the root cause of the problem.

“To this end, we have worked with (other) operators and Network Rail to find a way to make the changes scheduled as best we can.

“I don’t realistically see any substantial increase of rolling stock in the North until our new trains start to operate next year.

“So everything is OK then? The answer is no but things are a great deal better than they were; we are prioritising services on the Leeds to Doncaster line because they were suffering, especially the early commuter train to Leeds, which was cancelled very frequently.”

Mr Trickett said the response was “a load of baloney”.

He said: “Passengers have had to put with excuses for a long time now.

“If train services are poor, people naturally choose to go in their cars and we end up with overcrowding on the roads.

“It’s time we brought the railways back into public ownership and make them on time and efficient.”

Passenger representative David Young, who boards the Sheffield to Leeds service earlier in the morning, said: “The response doesn’t address a lot of the issues.

“September has been better than last month when half the trains were cancelled, but there was still a half-sized train on Friday morning.

“It’s still not good enough, but it is an improvement.”