Burnham urges May to solve Northern rail crisis

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on Monday called on UK Prime Minister Theresa May to intervene to solve the ongoing chaos on the railways in the North of England.

The troubled Northern rail franchise is operated by Arriva, the Sunderland-based multinational transport giant that is a subsidiary of Germany’s state-owned Deutsche Bahn.

“People’s lives are being badly affected by this chaos and the Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the plight of Northern commuters,” said Burnham.

“The time has come for the Prime Minister to get involved and that is why I have written to her today.

“She needs to come here to meet with Northern commuters so she can hear first-hand the effect this is having on their lives.

“She then needs to hold an urgent meeting with the rail industry to get clear answers from them as to why things are still so bad and an action plan to turn the situation around.”

In the latest chaos, Burnham said that on Sunday, dozens of trains were cancelled due to staffing shortages, including nearly every service between Liverpool and Manchester Airport, leaving many passengers stranded.

An email from a senior executive at Northern sent at 21.02 on Saturday said: “I am sorry to inform you that there will be some disruption to Northern’s services on Sunday 29 July in the Central and West regions.

“This is due to an unexpected increase (sic) in the numbers of crews available to work this Sunday.

“We expect about 47 services to be withdrawn, and Network Rail are currently updating their systems.

“The routes impacted will be: Liverpool Parkway – Manchester Airport; Wigan North Western – Huyton (express services).

“This decision, which has been taken following discussions with our client, Rail North Partnership, will enable Northern to protect services on Monday, by ensuring our trains are in the right depots ready for the Monday morning commuter services, as we re-introduce most of our May 2018 timetabled services which were suspended on 4 June.”

Burnham added: “There are only so many times that I can call on Chris Grayling to do his job and help rail passengers in the North.

“He has failed to deliver on his promise to make sorting out rail chaos here his top priority and that is why I feel have no choice but to ask the Prime Minister to intervene …

“People heading to Manchester Airport to go on holiday will have been left stranded as will others with work and family commitments.

“Passengers cannot be left in the lurch like this.

“This is no way to run a railway and we cannot continue to put up with a rail service provided when the operators can be bothered.”