Rail minister says Blackpool and Preston will benefit from new timetable and trains after lessons were learned from last year's chaos

One fo the new Northern trains arriving in the UK
One fo the new Northern trains arriving in the UK

The rail minister Andrew Jones has said lessons have been learned from last year’s May timetable chaos and that he had been closely monitoring performance after this year’s changes.

He said train operating companies and Network Rail now worked much closer together when planning changes through the industry’s Programme Management Office.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones

Rail Minister Andrew Jones

And he added that passengers on the Fylde coast and across Lancashire would this year reap the benefits of electrification and new rolling stock, following last year’s upheavals.

He said: “This week’s timetable change is a big moment. Last year’s ‘big moment’ was not what we wanted and lessons have been learned.”

He said operators enthusiasm to put in new routes last May was not tempered with a reality check when track upgrade work began to over-run due to a range of factors including the discovery of old mine workings which delayed installation of overhead electrics in the Chorley area.

He said: “This May’s timetable will see more frequent trains on the existing routes and Blackpool will have an hourly service to Manchester Airport plus an hourly service to Stockport via Piccadilly.

“I have been watching the performance data daily and it has started well.”

Nationally, he said the new timetable which came into operation on Monday saw 45,000 changes with 1,000 new services.

"It is the largest number of services we have put on the national network. We should now be seeing the fruits of the huge investment in rolling stock and engineering works.

The Farnworth tunnel is in operation with 100mph trains running on the new electrified stretch. We are going to see Northern replace its old stock with refurbishes trains and brand new stock.

"I have seen the refurbished trains and travelled on them and you can hardly tell they are not new. The new trains are being phased in from this summer.

"Transpennine will have 100 per cent new stock coming in from July."