North West passengers promised more trains as new Avanti and TransPennine timetables come into force

  • Video report by Granada Reports journalist Tim Scott

Rail passengers across the North West are being promised more trains and improved services after new timetables came into force.

Avanti West Coast, which has been marred with disruption since the summer, say among other changes, it will now run three trains an hour from Manchester to London.

While TransPennine Express, who run services from Liverpool into Yorkshire and whose services have been plagued with cancellations, is also increasing services.

But there are concerns the benefits of the new timetables will not be felt until well into 2023 after unions announced more industrial action in the run up to Christmas and into January.

But, despite the changes, passengers at Manchester Piccadilly said they were fed up and have no faith in the new timetables.

One said: "Sometimes they're often cancelled rather than delayed, I think the train strikes are only going to exacerbate those things."

"I think the situation on the trains is dreadful," another added. "I've been looking at trains this morning to get back to Sheffield and there are three or four cancelled."

A passenger said: "You're never convinced you're going to get there, so I'm tending to drive a lot now rather than get the train."

There are calls to strip Avanti of its contract Credit: PA

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said if the train companies do not deliver, they have to go.

He said: "There seems to be a lot of concern about whether TransPennine Express can improve in the short term, Avanti West Coast are saying they'll restore three trains an hour from Manchester to London, if they don't make those improvements the Secretary of State should start making arrangements to move them."

"If you compare the West Coast mainline to the East Coast mainline where it's under public control it's performing much better."

A number of trains have been cancelled or delayed due to staffing shortages and strikes. Credit: PA Images

TransPennine Express (TPE) say high levels of sickness, a training backlog and infrastructure issues have all contributed to their high cancellation rates.

It said: "“In normal circumstances, we have enough people to fully operate our scheduled timetable - and have more drivers now than ever before - however the combination of factors has put unprecedented pressure on our ability to effectively operate our services.“Our customers want, and deserve, reliable and punctual train services, and we are sorry 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.”

Avanti West Coast apologised for its service and said the new timetable provided a better working pattern for staff, benefitting customers, and will deliver approximately 40% more services.

It said: "We know in recent months our customers have not been getting the service they deserve.

"We are sorry for the enormous amount of frustration and inconvenience this has caused and are grateful for the patience our passengers have shown.

“Over the last few months, our sole focus has been to do everything we can to return to a more resilient operation which delivers more services for our customers and communities.

"Crucially, the new timetable is based on a robust and sustainable roster for our people without reliance on overtime, and has been achieved by working with our people and the unions.

"It provides a better working pattern for staff and our customers will benefit from more trains, greater connectivity and tickets on sale much earlier.”

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