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Calls for TransPennine to be stripped of 'failed franchise'

Credit: PA

There are calls for train company TransPennine Express to be stripped of its franchise, amid a series of problems for passengers travelling over the border.

The operator has apologised to customers, admitting their performance on the route has not been up to scratch.

Delays, cancelled trains and large fare increases - just some of the problems that have been facing passengers using Trans Pennine Express.

The purple route runs from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Credit: TransPennine Express

The route that has been most heavily criticised in our region runs from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Passengers like Julie Joseph, have run out of patience. She set up a business in Lockerbie partly because of its rail connections to Edinburgh and Glasgow but feels let down.

"Over the years it's been a pretty poor service. Old stock, often late, cancelled last minute. Most recently in Glasgow, coming home at the end of a long day, got onto one of the new trains, thought fabulous things are improving. Three minutes before the train was due to depart an announcement, they've no driver, the train is cancelled."

Transpennine Express's brand new Nova Trains were officially launched in 2019, as part of their £500m investment programme for the line.

However there are now growing concerns about the performance of the provider. Politicians from different parties are demanding action to improve the service.

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Colin Smyth, South Scotland MSP is calling on the UK government to strip First Group, the owners of TransPennine Express, of its franchise.

"Frankly time is up for this failed franchise. Commuters from Lockerbie Station are sick and tired of being treated as second class passengers. We've seen delays, we've seen cancellations, we've seen fare hikes of up to 37% in return for a service that is now the worst performing anywhere in the whole of the UK. A slap on the wrist is simply not going to be enough."

Credit: PA

The company has now been summoned to a meeting with the UK Transport Secretary after the issue was raised by local MP David Mundell, who told ITV Border:

"It's been particularly bad since a new timetable came into place in December so I've asked the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and he's agreed to bring in TransPennine and haul them over the coals about the level of service, confirm it's unacceptable and ask them what they're going to do about it."

Nobody from the company was available to be interviewed but in a statement the company said:

Our performance on our Anglo-Scottish route has not been up to scratch and for this we are truly sorry. We have had a number of issues associated with the introduction of our new trains which caused disruption to our customers journeys, including cancelling services through Lockerbie and we are really sorry for the inconvenience that this will no doubt have caused.

– Transpennine Express

It went on to say that it's launched a compensation scheme for season ticket holders.

Trans Pennine is just the latest operator to run into trouble on the West Coast Main Line. Northern Rail is facing the possible loss of its franchise and Network Rail, which looks after the tracks, has been heavily criticised this week.

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