Rail company boss concedes poor passenger service but says things are improving

David BrownDavid Brown
David Brown
A Northern Rail boss has admitted that the National Passenger Survey results were disappointing.

He was speaking after criticism following Transport Focus' survey which showed passengers satisfaction with services had fallen to its lowest level since 2007.

David Brown, managing director for Northern said: “The results are disappointing but not surprising when we look at the challenges the rail industry, and in particular Northern, has faced in 2018.

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“Delayed and overrunning engineering work across the North West, challenging autumn conditions, continued fallout caused by the May 2018 timetable and the ongoing RMT dispute were significant factors. These affected our ability to deliver the level of service customers expect and deserve and we are very sorry.

A Northern Rail trainA Northern Rail train
A Northern Rail train

“Throughout the autumn and into the new timetable, which we successfully introduced in December, we have worked hard to deliver significant improvements.

"We are now seeing clear signs of a stabilised and more reliable service. This is supported by an upturn in results in our monthly customer satisfaction surveys since November but we acknowledge there is more work to be done.

“Our work to improve the railway in the north of England will continue throughout 2019 when we will introduce the first of our brand new trains. We will also start to remove Pacers from the network and continue to improve our stations and the facilities for our customers.

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“We are doing everything we can to find a resolution to the RMT dispute. A conductor will remain on Northern trains and we urge the RMT to get back round the table to agree what this role will look like.”

The rail union has been in dispute with the company over its plans to phase out guards and run trains driver only.

The company has now agreed to retain a second staff member on some trains but the two disagree on what that role should entail and the union claims that its has been told by Northern's managing director has said that because of the franchise requirements some trains will be driver only.

The union is continuing with industrial action at weekends with train services hit on the first three Saturdays in February

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Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary said: “The Transport Focus survey shows that passengers are continuing to get a raw deal on Britain’s rip-off, privatised railways and once again the case for an end to profiteering, and a return to public ownership, is reinforced by the findings.

“The bottom line is that the British passenger continues to pay the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed-out, unreliable services where private profit comes before public safety."