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  1. ITV Report

Deputy mayor demands answers over ‘chaotic’ Northern Rail cancellations

On Friday, the operator said it expected 80 of the scheduled 1,500 train services on Sunday not to run Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Northern Rail has cancelled services for a third Sunday running, with the deputy mayor of Greater Manchester branding the cancellations as "chaotic and unacceptable".

Baroness Beverley Hughes wrote to the managing director of Northern David Brown after the company announced a third successive week of Sunday service cancellations.

The operator had said last week it expected 80 of it scheduled 1,500 train services on Sunday not to run.

The areas most affected will be Liverpool, Greater Manchester and Lancashire where Arriva (Northern) said ongoing engineering projects have caused severe difficulties around the short-notice scheduling of train crews.

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The biggest rail workers union repeated its call for Arriva Rail North, which runs Northern, to be stripped of its franchise.

Mick Cash, the general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “Yet again today services on Arriva Rail North have been reduced to chaos as this basket case franchise lurches from crisis to crisis.

He said it was "outrageous for Northern Rail once again to try and lump the blame for the crew shortages that have led to widespread cancellations today on their workforce".

And added: “ARN should be stripped of the franchise and the Northern routes should be nationalised immediately.”

Liverpool is one of the areas most affected Credit: PA

In her letter, Baroness Hughes said: “As you are no doubt aware the Mayor has had to write to you, the Secretary of State for Transport and Transport for the North on a number of occasions over the past several months, and has also written to the Prime Minister, regarding what has been a chaotic and unacceptable situation.

“It is disappointing that once again we are having to contact you directly regarding Northern’s services failing to meet an adequate standard.”

She asked for reassurances that services would run the following Sunday, questioned what urgent steps were being taken to address staff shortages and asked what compensation would be available for travellers affected by cancellations, which are expected to include some services between Liverpool and Manchester Airport.

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Northern has said anyone whose journey is delayed by 30 minutes or more can apply for compensation.

A spokesman for the rail operator said: “We are sorry that our customers continue to experience some disruption to their weekend services.

“We are advising anyone thinking of travelling on Sunday on these routes to plan their journey carefully.”

Northern slashed nearly 170 services a day – 6% of the total – in early June after a new timetable introduced in May resulted in significant disruption for passengers.

The operator reintroduced three quarters of the cancelled services last month but commuters have continued to experience problems on the network.