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TransPennine Express stripped of contract after ‘continuous cancellations’: what does it mean for passengers?

TransPennine Express stripped of contract after ‘continuous cancellations’: what does it mean for passengers?

TransPennine Express, the company that runs many trains in northern England and southern Scotland, has lost its contract. The train operator, owned by FirstGroup, links Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The government said the company would be brought under public control as an Operator of Last Resort (OLR) from 28 May following “months of significant disruption and regular cancellations”.

The Department for Transport (DfT) statement said: “While some improvements have been made over the past few months, it has been decided that to achieve the performance levels passengers deserve, and that the Northern economy needs, both the contract and the underlying relationships must be reset.”

But will passengers notice an improvement? These are the key questions and answers.

How is TransPennine Express doing?

Very poorly. In December 2022, an IT glitch resulted in passengers being urged not to travel. This happened against a background of many cancellations across the network.

During most of March 2023, the train firm cancelled the equivalent of one in six services.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “TransPennine Express passengers have endured an unacceptable service for too long. In our latest survey TransPennine Express was rated the joint worst-performing train operator and just 67 per cent of passengers were satisfied with how punctual their journey was.”

The DfT says the number of cancellations – many at short notice – has resulted in “a considerable decline in confidence for passengers who rely on the trains to get to work, visit family and friends and go about their daily lives”.

I have an advance ticket. Do I need to do anything?

No. All tickets already purchased for after 28 May, as well as those booked between now and then, will continue to be honoured.

All trains will continue to run to the current schedules (except those that are cancelled).

Will staff lose their jobs?

No, the same people will work on the trains. FirstGroup will lose its contract, with civil servants directing operations from 28 May.

Will passengers notice an instant improvement?

No. Things will worsen almost immediately, with a national strike on Friday 12 May by train drivers belonging to the Aslef union halting all TransPennine services. Members of the RMT union will…

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