Northern Rail called on to end train operations

A Northern train. The company has come under fire yet again from a local MP over poor service
A Northern train. The company has come under fire yet again from a local MP over poor service

An under-fire rail operator running numerous routes through Wigan is once again facing calls for its franchise to be stripped.

Northern should be relieved of its responsibilities for providing trains as it is inflicting misery on travellers, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has said.

Damning statistics show that fewer than two-thirds of Northern’s routes actually ran between May 21 and November 24.

Northern’s Wigan Wallgate to Southport service runs through Ms Cooper’s constituency and she is the latest politician to claim the operator is beyond hope of reform.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has been another vocal critic of the crisis-hit firm for most of the year, as passengers have reacted furiously to timetabling botch-ups, appalling services and a long-running industrial dispute over guards.

Ms Cooper last week pressured prime minister Theresa May in parliament to intervene and resolve the issues.

She said: “I have been deluged with reports from residents about poor service, no service and no refunds for much of 2018.

“If Northern are only operating to a two-thirds capacity then I believe passengers should not be forced to pay full price for their tickets.

“Northern have a government rail franchise and are simply not delivering and causing misery for commuters and their families through their deplorable service.

“We had Monday Meltdown in May, but for my West Lancashire constituents there has not been an improvement as they’re forced on to rail replacement buses, miss trains due to overcrowding, and being left stranded on station platforms.

“It is time for the Prime Minister to step in and end the Northern franchise and fix this mess.”

A letter signed by local MPs and councillors will this week call on Northern to reinstate the pre-May timetable to the Wallgate-to-Southport route.

Ms Nandy has criticised both Northern and the Government repeatedly over the region’s rail services this year.