TransPennine Express: Sheffield MP demands government strip rail firm of contract following service cancellations

A Sheffield MP has called for the Transport Secretary to “wake up and put passengers and the public first” by withdrawing the contract for rail operator TransPennine Express.
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The news comes as South Yorkshire council leaders have agreed a £1.1m increase in spending to help shore up public transport services.

Sheffield Heeley MP and Labour’s shadow transport minister Louise Haigh pointed to service cancellations by the operator causing widespread disruption.

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She said in two days last week almost 200 train services were cancelled by TransPennine Express, leaving passengers stranded across the North.

Sheffield MP Louise Haigh says that TransPennine Express should lose its contract as it has cancelled services at short noticeSheffield MP Louise Haigh says that TransPennine Express should lose its contract as it has cancelled services at short notice
Sheffield MP Louise Haigh says that TransPennine Express should lose its contract as it has cancelled services at short notice

These failures by the company and the government’s inability to get a grip on the situation is failing passengers and causing huge disruption for people and regional economies.

Ms Haigh warned tramnsport minister Mark Harper that the government “cannot continue to wash their hands of responsibility, nor reward failure” as the damage to the economy from the decision of the private operator mounts.

She has urged ministers to begin the process of withdrawing the contract.

‘Fiasco’

Sheffield MP and shadow transport minister Louise Haigh says that the TransPennine Express cancellation of rail services is a 'fiasco' and the firm should lose its contractSheffield MP and shadow transport minister Louise Haigh says that the TransPennine Express cancellation of rail services is a 'fiasco' and the firm should lose its contract
Sheffield MP and shadow transport minister Louise Haigh says that the TransPennine Express cancellation of rail services is a 'fiasco' and the firm should lose its contract
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“This fiasco is causing real damage to the regional economy, passengers and the public,”said the MP.

“This cannot continue, in November ministers promised passengers that the new timetable would be deliverable, but the results are in and it’s worse than ever. Ministers cannot continue to think that the management of TransPennine Express are blameless in this.

“The North can’t afford TransPennine Express any longer. The government must, immediately, strip TransPennine Express of this contract and bring it under the Operator of Last Resort.

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South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard has an extra £1.1m to spend on public transport following a deal agreed by the region's four local authoritiesSouth Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard has an extra £1.1m to spend on public transport following a deal agreed by the region's four local authorities
South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard has an extra £1.1m to spend on public transport following a deal agreed by the region's four local authorities

“This hapless government cannot continue to wash their hands of responsibility, blame anyone but themselves, and reward failure without consequences. It’s time ministers put passengers first.”

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South Yorkshire council leaders backed a £1.1 million boost to tackle local public transport pressures.

The 2% annual budget increase for transport from local councils in the region for the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority comes despite continued pressures on local government finance and is the first uplift of its kind since the start of austerity more than 12 years ago.

‘Signal of intent’

Mayor Oliver Coppard called the move a ‘real signal of intent’ in support of his plans to fix South Yorkshire’s public transport system but warned it won’t go far enough to prevent further cuts.

He said: “My vision is for a greener, smarter, integrated transport network that our communities can rely on. Bit by bit we’re trying to make things better for the travelling public and this is a real signal of intent – we are taking the important first steps on our journey to fix public transport in South Yorkshire.

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“But while the levy increase will help us to act now to secure longer-term financial sustainability for our buses, trams and trains, it does not make the crisis facing public transport go away – we still can’t afford to protect all South Yorkshire services from cuts when our emergency budget expires. We will face hard trade-offs across the board.”

He called for the government to maintain support “because our community deserves a proper rescue plan, not a series of sticking plasters that patch up a broken public transport system”.

The move follows a £12.3m emergency rescue package from the SYMCA to protect bus routes and school services from cuts by operators and a £2 fare cap for buses and Supertram.