TransPennine Express cancels 100 train services in two days, as Sheffield MP slams 'shambolic' performance
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Ms Haigh took aim at the new contract in a release detailing a list of demands for her new Government counterpart, Mark Harper MP. Her office said in a statement: “Incredibly, ministers rewarded TransPennine Express with over £5m in taxpayers’ money in performance and management fees in 2020-21 – giving them the highest performance rating possible - despite being the third worst operator for delays and cancellations on the network and the biggest cut in services of any operator on the network. And TransPennine Express are set to be awarded a lucrative eight-year contract extension in May 2023, despite the shambolic performance.” It added that more than 40 services had been cancelled on Tuesday and more than 60 services cancelled on Wednesday this week by the train operator.
TransPennine Express is one of the main operators out of Sheffield station, and Haigh’s statement on its services comes as she urges ministers to intervene as Labour accuse the government of “failing passengers” by refusing to act on the huge disruption facing passengers and the regional economy.
Commenting on the disruption, Ms Haigh said: “This ongoing fiasco is causing real damage to the public, passengers and the economy. It’s time for Ministers to put the country first, stop washing their hands of responsibility, and intervene.
"They should demand a binding plan from TransPennine Express for the urgent improvement of these vital services, claw-back taxpayers' money being handed over for trains that are no longer running, and if they cannot deliver begin withdrawing the contract. It's utterly absurd that people across cannot rely on the train to get to work, and flies in the face of countless promises made by the Tories to connect our northern towns and cities. It’s time they stand up for passengers.”
Her office said passengers in northern towns and cities have faced “weeks of chaos” following the decision “signed off by ministers” to cut services on the Trans Pennine route.
A spokesperson for TransPennine Express said: “Prior to December 2021 ,TransPennine Express (TPE) had posted its best ever performance results, and was subsequently recognised as “Train Operator of the Year” at the Rail Business Awards. Since then, prolonged disruption affecting our services has been caused by a range of issues including ongoing high levels of train crew sickness, a persisting training backlog as a direct result of Covid, and infrastructure issues outside of TPE’s control. Combined, these factors have seen a number of on-the-day or ‘evening before’ cancellations being made.
“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.”