Ministers told to 'get a grip' on 'appalling' Northern Rail services

"Appalling" rail services in northern England
"Appalling" rail services in northern England

Chris Grayling faced fresh demands to improve "appalling" rail services in northern England, amid warnings that more commuters are giving up travelling by train.

Labour's Kate Green questioned when the Transport Secretary and his ministerial team will "get a grip" of the Northern franchise, adding she would prefer it to be scrapped.

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Stephanie Peacock, Labour MP for Barnsley East, also hit out at the use of "trains that belong in museums" on routes to Leeds and Sheffield from her south Yorkshire constituency.

A timetable overhaul implemented during the summer crippled services for tens of thousands of Northern rail passengers, with further concerns raised over the future of work to electrify the Manchester to Leeds route.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Green (Stretford and Urmston) said: "Every week I'm contacted by constituents who are giving up travelling by train to work because of the appalling service they receive from Northern Rail.

"When will ministers get a grip of or preferably scrap this failing franchise?"

Rail minister Jo Johnson replied: "At the request of Transport for the North in one of its recent board meetings, we have appointed jointly Richard George - who previously played an important role in the delivery of the London Olympic Games - to coordinate better the performance of the train operators in the north of England, Northern and TransPennine Express alongside Network Rail to ensure that the system is better coordinated in the north.

"We're looking forward to seeing the results of his work. I met him yesterday and he has a hard-driving agenda to put in place."

Ms Peacock earlier said: "It costs over £150 to commute to Leeds and Sheffield from Barnsley, yet trains that belong in museums are often delayed and packed to dangerous capacity.

"When will the Government get a grip and invest in northern transport?"

Mr Johnson said the Government was investing in new rolling stock, noting this would result in all trains either being replaced or fully refurbished.