Northern rail's compensation package for 15-minute train delays should be used across the country, says Rail Minister Andrew Jones
A scheme where Northern rail passengers in Yorkshire are compensated if their train is 15 minutes late should be "what the future looks like" for rail firms across the country, according to the Rail Minister.
Andrew Jones was speaking today at Leeds station, where he launched the Delay Repay 15 (DR15) scheme which will mean Northern passengers delayed by between 15 and 29 minutes can claim back compensation worth 25 per cent of the single fare.
The beleaguered rail operator has already paid out £1m in compensation related to the delays and disruption caused by the disastrous introduction of a new rail timetable in May.
The Yorkshire Post revealed last month that performance levels for Northern and fellow operator TransPennine Express were as bad this autumn as at the height of the timetable crisis.
But Mr Jones, who is Conservative MP for Harrogate, said changes made in a timetable update on December 9 had "helped to stabilise things" and that performance was now more secure.
The DR15 scheme was first introduced on Govia Thameslink Railway services in 2016 and is an extension of the current compensation package that already exists for journeys delayed by 30 minutes or more.
Rail delays in the North now worse than after May timetable fiascoNorthern, which is footing the bill for the scheme across the North, says it has not set aside a set amount of money to pay for it but that the current 30 minute compensation package costs hundreds of thousands of pound a year.
Mr Jones said: "We want this to be part of what the future looks like as part of the deal for rail passengers and we are building it into franchises when it comes up for renewal.
"It is already in place in some parts of the UK and outside the franchise arrangements we are looking to the rail companies to take it forward and do this, and that is what Northern are doing here today. They are paying for it.
"How much is it going to cost? I want to get to the point where it doesn't cost anything, because we want to have a reliable network. My focus is upon a network which is reliable, punctual and that the customers can trust."
Earlier this month, The Yorkshire Post revealed that rail punctuality in the North of England is now even worse than during the immediate aftermath of the May timetable rollout fiasco - with almost 80 trains per day being cancelled by the region’s two biggest operators and overcrowded services frequently running with reduced numbers of carriages.
Only 62 per cent of TransPennine Express services and 67 per cent of Northern services arrived on time last month, their worst figures in the past two years.
According to the trains.im website, Northern's performance has improved this month, with 77.4 per cent of trains running on time.
Mr Jones told The Yorkshire Post: "There is no doubt we have seen a level of service which has not been good enough. We saw a particularly low point in the May timetable changes.
"However the situation has stabilised since then, we had a timetable change on December 9 as well which has helped to stabilise things.
"I have monitored the performance of all of the franchises since then and it seems to be more secure, we will see further improvements in the May timetable change of next year. A further thing that will help to stabilise performance will be the increased amount of new rolling stock."