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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Patrick Edrich

Channel 4 boss on way to Hollyoaks meeting calls journey an 'insult to the North'

A Channel 4 boss visiting Liverpool documented her "nightmare" journey and branded it an "insult to the North".

Channel 4's head of drama Caroline Hollick documented her journey as she visited Liverpool for a Hollyoaks meeting. Ms Hollick set off from Leeds this morning, January 17, but was repeatedly met with a barrage of train cancellations from TransPennine Express (TPE).

The TV boss documented the journey on her Twitter account calling it a "day of failure" for the train operator. TPE told the ECHO the disruptions to services today were down to a number of factors including "continued levels of high sickness and a training backlog".

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Following a number of train cancellations between Leeds and Liverpool Lime Street, Ms Hollick said a train was "finally provided". But once the passengers had boarded, an announcement said the train did not have a driver. She claimed passengers sat at Leeds station for an hour and 45 minutes before it eventually left.

Ms Hollick then said her train to Liverpool had terminated in Manchester, leaving travellers with another wait. She eventually made it to Liverpool hours after she set off.

TPE has come under criticism for cancellations on its service. A Guardian investigation from last year found during the October half term TPE cancelled 30% of all its trains. And the following month a total of 294 trains were cancelled within a seven day period. TPE told the Guardian the cancellations were due to train sickness, intensive crew training, and infrastructure outside the service's control.

The ECHO has also extensively covered significant delays and cancellations with the TPE service. Just days before Christmas the train operator urged passengers not to travel as more than 100 trains were cancelled due to a "significant rostering system issue".

Ms Hollick branded the journey a "nightmare" - and added the ongoing issues with travel is an "insult to the North".

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region's mayor, and his Manchester counterpart Andy Burnham last year called for an end to "chaos and poor performance" on the North's railways. The pair criticised TPE and Avanti West Coast, another of the region's largest train operators, adding they should be stripped of their franchises if they don't improve. Both train operators apologised and said they would be working to improve services in the region.

Regarding today's cancellations, a spokesperson for TransPennine Express told the ECHO: "We are sorry to anyone that has been affected by disruption to our services today and we continue to do everything we can to deliver a train service our customers can rely on. The prolonged disruption, which has been caused by a combination of factors including continued levels of high sickness and a training backlog following the pandemic has led to the need to remove services from the timetable on a day-by-day basis through pre-planned cancellations.

"Customers are advised to check their journey before travelling and people impacted by their train being cancelled can apply for a refund."

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