TransPennine Express: Shadow Transport Secretary and Sheffield Labour MP slams Tories' 'broken' rail system
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Recent figures from the Office of Road and Rail show TransPennine Express (TPE) cancelled around one in six services in March, 2023. Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley and Shadow Transport Secretary, has repeatedly criticised TPE for their “shambolic” performance serving their customers in northern England and in Scotland.
Following the announcement of the Government’s decision to bring TPE into public control, Ms Haigh said: “After months of needless damage, the Tories have finally accepted they can no longer defend the indefensible. But this endless cycle of shambolic private operators failing passengers shows the Conservative's rail system is fundamentally broken.
“The next Labour government will bring our railways back into public ownership as contracts expire. We will end the Tories’ failing system, putting the public back at the heart of our rail network.”
TPE will be brought under public control from May 28, 2023 through the “Operator of Last Resort” – a company that takes ownership of railway franchises on behalf of the government.
The government Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “In my time as transport secretary, I have been clear that passenger experience must always come first. After months of commuters and Northern businesses bearing the brunt of continuous cancellations, I've made the decision to bring TransPennine Express into Operator of Last Resort."
Mr Harper also suggested one of the challenges “preventing TransPennine Express from being able to run a full service” was the train drivers union, ASLEF. He said it was time for ASLEF to ‘play their part’ by calling off strike action.
The union responded to Mr Harper and said it was disappointing the MP was trying to blame them rather than TPE’s “inept management”.
Andy Burnham, the Greater Manchester Mayor, has spoken with a number of other northern Mayors, including South Yorkshire’s Oliver Coppard, on the state of northern railways. He said: “As Mayors, we have spoken up consistently for long-suffering rail passengers in the North. I am glad the Government has listened.
“We will now work with them to restore trust in train services and build a railway people can rely on.”