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Northern Rail bosses grilled by MPs as new strikes are announced

Passengers on Northern Rail services have faced severe disruption over recent weeks. Credit: PA

Northern Rail bosses are being grilled by MPs over the cancellation of thousands of services since new timetables were introduced.

Managing director David Brown and performance and planning director Rob Warnes are among a number of senior rail executives hauled before the Transport Select Committee this afternoon.

Northern apologised for its performance in the wake of the timetable change last month, which led to the launch of an emergency timetable that cut more than 160 services every day.

The new timetable came as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told Parliament "in the case of Northern I will not hold back from taking appropriate action if the review finds there has been negligent behaviour".

I do accept that may be a criticism that we didn't shout louder and earlier in the process but at that point the task was to rewrite the timetable so there's a balance of crying wolf and saying there's a big problem but without being able to say exactly what that looks like.

And because the timetable process is sequential, you only realise that right at the last minute.Normally we, as all train operators, would have all of those technical documents 12 weeks in advance so we could then understand where those risks were but clearly if you're only starting that 16 weeks out you don't have that opportunity.

– David Brown, managing director of Northern Rail, speaking before the Transport Select Committee

Rail commuters meanwhile face further disruption this week after the RMT Union announced its workers on Arriva Rail North services will walk out tomorrow, Thursday and Saturday.

The strikes are the latest in a series over the role of train guards amid plans for driver-only Northern trains, but union bosses claim guards are essential to keeping passengers safe.

This dispute is not about jobs or safety. Guards have been guaranteed their jobs and the independent rail regulator has ruled that driver-controlled trains, which have been used in this country for 30 years, are safe.

We urge the union to abandon these strikes, work with the train operator and make passengers' services their number one priority.

– A Department for Transport spokesman