A furious Lancashire council leader and MP have called for the Government to step in and take action against train operator Northern after almost two weeks of chaos on the railways.
Bosses at Chorley Council are demanding immediate improvements for residents who have been delayed getting to work and appointments and stranded at train stations across the region.
The authority is calling on the Government to ensure Northern fulfils its new timetable and if it can’t, the franchise should be taken away.
Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “Residents in the borough have suffered for far too long with overcrowded poor quality trains and we were promised that the electrification work and new timetable would improve things for everyone.
“Instead all we’ve seen is disruption for residents living close to the railways while the line is electrified and now a new timetable has been introduced services have got much worse with trains being cancelled just minutes before they are due with passengers waiting on platforms.
“We need to see immediate improvements and if that can’t be achieved it’s about time someone else was brought in to do the job properly."
Northern has blamed the cancellations and delays on major timetable changes, and a shortage of trained drivers because of Network Rail delays improving the line through Lancashire.
Coun Bradley said: “Residents rely on public transport to get them into work, get them to health appointments and to access services yet we’ve got bus services that we are having to fund to keep a decent service running and train services that are a lottery whether one turns up or not.”
Northern Rail has faced heavy criticism from disgruntled customers with hundreds of services cancelled or more than half an hour late since the new timetable was introduced earlier in May.
The organisation has blamed a shortage of drivers due to training on the electrification routes – an excuse that has been branded ‘not good enough’.
“We appreciate that the major changes being made won’t run completely smoothly but the operator has got to be more open and honest with its customers,” said Coun Bradley.
“They’ve known this has been coming for months but it doesn’t appear that the company has been proactive in trying to put solutions in place.
“If they are blaming a shortage of drivers then they should be able to give passengers more notice of potential cancellations – at least the night before – so commuters aren’t travelling to the station having checked their train is running and by the time they get to the platform it is cancelled. They must know sooner than ten minutes before whether a driver is going to be available or not.
Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle tweeted: "Enough is enough. I met with (Northern) and accepted the apology and explanation but the Northern service at the heart of Chorley is failing passengers.
"It's reached a critical level. I'm calling on the Transport Secretary to take control of the network."