Misery for Wigan weekend rail commuters

Northern blamed work being done on the line
Northern blamed work being done on the line

A Wigan commuter who works at weekends has blasted a train operator for not ensuring there are enough drivers on Sundays.

Steven Horrobin says he is still struggling to get to his job at Middlebrook in Horwich and regularly has to deal with rail replacement bus services a couple of months after he first spoke out about the difficulties he was experiencing.

He says Northern is telling passengers there is a shortage of train drivers and is calling on them to make better arrangements for a seven-day service because people still have to get to work at weekends.Mr Horrobin hit out once more after a service was cancelled last weekend and he had to offer a friend money to get to his destination.

He said: “On Sunday there were no trains due to there being no train drivers again. Northern has said drivers would be working on Sundays but they are still cancelling services.

“I need to go between Wigan and Horwich on a Sunday and it’s still not the normal service, it’s still dodgy.

“You just don’t know what will be happening from Sunday to Sunday.

“You’ve not got a clue. You are taking a risk whether you will get to work and then get back home or not.

“I love my job and I like the company I work for.

“They’re not running the service right to enable me to work.

“It’s the same old excuses about a shortage of train drivers and on social media they turn around and say they can’t help you.”

Mr Horrobin estimates his Sunday journey to work ends up being made on a rail replacement bus service a couple of times a month on average.

He says the use of coaches is also no long-term solution because they do not have the facilities such as public toilets for longer journeys.

Northern admitted the situation has not changed since Mr Horrobin spoke out in May about Sunday services but said pre-planned cancellations are listed on the website in advance to help weekend travellers make their plans.

Northern blamed work being done on the line at weekends for the disruption to regular timetables, saying this threw out of kilter its contractual arrangements with staff.

A spokesman said: “The impact of ongoing engineering work means we are still having to adjust our Sunday timetable most weeks, creating short-term plans that may include cancellations.

“This has an effect on matching employees’ availability within their working agreements.

“Routes with cancelled Sunday service are chosen carefully to minimise the impact on customers.

“On each of the affected routes, our customers will have a range of alternative options available to them including other Northern services, trains run by other operators or rail replacement road transport. All routes with pre-planned cancellations are advertised via the Northern website each Friday.”