Action plan drawn up after train cancellations in Wigan

The picket line outside Wigan Wallgate station today
The picket line outside Wigan Wallgate station today

An urgent plan to address major headaches on Wigan's rail network has been agreed with transport bosses.

Last night at least another 11 trains were axed by Northern, the franchise run by Arriva, rounding off a week of cancellations and delays.

But now Transport for the North (TfN), the statutory body covering the region, says a package has been drawn up to address ongoing performance issues.

The announcement comes as rail guards stage the first of two one-day strikes today, in the long-running dispute over driver-only trains. A picket line is outside Wigan Wallgate station.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy and Andy Burnham, the Greater Manchester Mayor, have been scathing over Northern's failings, calling for their tender to be reviewed.

Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said: "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."

Barry White, TfN chief executive added: "We are extremely disappointed and concerned with the inadequate performance of Northern.

"We have received a timetable recovery plan from Northern to address these concerns and improve the rail experience for passengers.

"Both Transport for the North and the Department for Transport, through the Rail North Partnership, will be monitoring progress against the plan on a daily basis."

The action plan is said to cover improved driver rostering, after shortages have left dozens of services unable to depart.

Driver training on new routes will be accelerated, so less routes will be affected by stoppages, has been pledged.

Extra 'contingency' drivers - and management on the ground to oversee them - is another requirement.

More services have also been promised at peak times between Preston and Manchester Oxford Road.

Rail bosses are also asking Northern to give earlier notice of service disruptions to passengers, work closer with Rail North and keep in regular contact with Network Rail, along with Trans Pennine Express, to help manage the network successfully.