MP insists Wigan passengers are being shortchanged by operator

Lisa Nandy has returned to the attack on rail operator Northern
Lisa Nandy has returned to the attack on rail operator Northern

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has blasted the Transport Secretary after he defended train operator Northern in Parliament.

Chris Grayling believes operator Arriva, which is backed by German state railway Deutsche Bahn, should be allowed time to deliver on pledges to phase ageing Pacer trains and deliver more trains per hour between busy destinations.

The Wigan MP, and northern colleagues, have signed an Early Day Motion urging action to be taken against Northern, amid ongoing concerns about overcrowded and cancelled trains.

She has also campaigned against the unpopular removal of direct services to Manchester Piccadilly station in the May timetables revamp.

But Ms Nandy, speaking in a House of Commons debate after the East Coast Main Line was brought back into public hands, said the Transport Secretary appeared to be unaware of the wider picture, where the railways were concerned.

She added: "Northern passengers were promised a better service when the franchise was awarded a couple of years ago.

"But that service is dirty, overcrowded and increasingly unreliable. That is having a major impact on our economy. Will he join me, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and cross-party MPs, and, in the public interest, step in to strip this arrogant, out-of-touch company of its franchise?"

Mr Grayling stressing that the Northern franchise was overseen by Rail North, said: "They are delivering a massive investment programme. I would add a cautionary note.

"Performance issues need to be addressed and we will address them, but it would be a huge mistake to disrupt the investment programme that, over the coming months, will start the transformation of all those dirty old trains that should have been replaced a decade ago but were not.

"The new trains are being built. The first ones are starting to arrive and she will see a transformation that is long overdue.

Speaking later, Ms Nandy added: "The Transport Secretary seemed unaware that Wigan isn’t getting new trains, electrification or a “better” service under the terms of his deal.

"We’re losing direct services to Manchester Piccadilly and despite many requests from me, he will not intervene."