Tory MP backs Louise Haigh's calls to strip "absolute shambles" TransPennine Express of franchise

A Conservative MP says he supports Labour's calls to strip TransPennine Express of its rail franchise following severe disruption to services.

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, said he agreed with Louise Haigh, Labour's shadow transport secretary, who who has called on the minister Huw Merriman to bring services under public control.

Speaking in the Commons Ms Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, told Mr Merriman TransPennine Express's record had "never been worse", citing the cancellation of 123 services on Thursday alone.

Mr Merriman said the policy of using the government as an "operator of last resort" should be kept to a minimum, but warned that if TransPennine Express failed to improve "decisions will be made".

Mr Davies told ITV News that the company had been "an absolute shambles for quite some time" and that they had "never had enough capacity" on their trains.

"It's always been an uncomfortable journey even when the trains are running," he said.

"It's not just because of the strike action, though that certainly hasn't helped. [Some companies] don't deserve to keep their franchises to be perfectly honest."

Responding to the calls, a spokesperson for TransPennine Express said the company was “committed to the communities we serve" and that it was doing all it can "to deliver a train service they can rely on".

In a statement it said: “Prolonged disruption to our services has been caused by a combination of very high levels of sickness and a training backlog following the pandemic, which have led to us needing to remove services from our timetable on a day-to-day basis through pre-planned cancellations.

“Our customers want, and deserve, reliable and punctual train services, and we are sorry we have not been able to consistently provide that due to the ongoing issues. TPE’s team continues to work flat-out to deliver higher levels of service delivery and to tackle the issues that are being experienced by customers.”

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