Leader backs calls to scrap first class carriages on trains over Christmas period

Published Wednesday 20 December 2023 at 9:08

Blackburn with Darwen Council Leader Councillor Phil Riley has joined other Northern leaders in slamming the recent level of service on trains.

Shocking figures outlining the level of cancellations by Avanti West Coast  were shared at the latest Transport for the North meeting.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has a seat on the board, England’s first sub-national transport body.

At the meeting, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham updated other leaders that over the course of the week, Avanti had been operating at a reliability of 52 per cent.  He said over a quarter of trains have been delayed, severely delayed, or cancelled.

The Board agreed to write to the Transport Secretary about the ‘inadequate’ and ‘unacceptable’ level of service, claiming the number of cancellations is ‘too high’.

The Board also agreed to issue statutory advice – which means the Secretary of State must take note – calling for the declassification of first-class carriages with ‘immediate effect’ due to the high demand during the festive period.

Councillor Riley said:

At the meeting, Mayor Burnham gave some horrific figures about cancellations and delays. With Christmas around the corner, it’s not fair that people cannot rely on their local train service.

I also raised questions about overcrowding. It’s great more people are using the trains but many people will be put off by the experience if they are all standing and crammed into central corridors and doorways. It’s simply not acceptable and it is the job of the train operators to do better.

I fully support TfN issuing statutory advice to the Secretary of State – which must be heeded – to take the appropriate action and tackle this substandard performance.

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