Northern Rail chaos: Firms could be compensated for lost business

John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North
John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North
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Transport leaders in the North said today that “something should be done” to make up for the “real hardship” suffered by passengers and firms across the region as a result of the Northern rail company timetable chaos.

Details of the special compensation package for those affected by the weeks of delays and cancellations on Northern services following the botched introduction of a new timetable on May 20 have yet to be announced by the operator.

The Blackpool North line was one of the worst affected by the timetable disruption

The Blackpool North line was one of the worst affected by the timetable disruption

At an extraordinary meeting of Transport for the North’s partnership board, attended by senior transport officials from all of the affected areas, members said any scheme should “certainly include season ticket holders”.

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But the strategic body’s chairman John Cridland told The Yorkshire Post that the three-hour meeting behind closed doors also discussed the losses suffered by passengers and businesses who had not signed up for season tickets in advance.

He said: “This could be lost business or lost income because of being unable to get to a place of work or unable to get customers to a business.

We’ve seen first-hand the distress that this disruption has caused and the very real impact this has on people’s lives.

John Cridland

“That is much harder to define than season ticket holders, but we spent time discussing real hardship that some people have faced and the fact that we believe that something should be done about it.”

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He added: “It will be a Northern compensation package authorised by their partners and what the Secretary of State has previously said was that there should be a compensation package and he wanted to consult Transport for the North.

“It’s not our decision in isolation where compensation should go, but in addition to season ticket holders, we also discussed how we might help with losses by passengers and businesses where that caused real hardship.”

During the meeting members were given an update on Northern’s current performance levels, which have been improving in recent days.

After a number of services were cut as part of an interim timetable in the North-West to stabilise the service, Mr Cridland said he had received assurances from Northern that it was working “towards delivering a restored timetable service by the end of July”.

He said: “As the voice of northern communities, we are standing up for passengers and businesses who have been let down.

“We’ve seen first-hand the distress that this disruption has caused and the very real impact this has on people’s lives.

“Our immediate focus must be on giving passengers the reliable rail service they deserve.”

Separately, 83 Labour MPs from across the North have written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling calling for a return to public ownership and control of the railways as the current franchise system is “not fit for purpose”

The letter says: “It is what the majority of the travelling public want, and it is what they deserve: trains which run, and run on time. It is the very least that our constituents should expect.”

David Brown, managing director of Northern, pictured at Zaragoza

Northern boss says sorry to passengers and blames short-notice over rail chaos