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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Ashlie Blakey

TransPennine Express boss apologises to passengers amid raft of cancellations

The boss of TransPennine Express has apologised to passengers amid months of cancellations and delays on train services.

Matthew Golton, managing director at the under-fire operator, told the BBC that services have not been good enough as he said sorry for the disruption caused to passengers. He said the operator had a 'recovery plan' to improve.

Asked about TransPennine Express cancelling 40 per cent of its services last week, Mr Golton said: "It isn't good enough. I apologise.

READ MORE: Northern mayors call for TransPennine Express services to be publicly controlled

"We know that this business is really important to the North of England [and] Scotland. We know that we've got to do a good job and we really care about when we let people down."

Passengers across the country have experienced disruption due to the train worker strikes, though TransPennine Express has previously also blamed 'high sickness levels' and a 'training backlog following the pandemic' for causing its cancellations. Mr Golton also told the BBC: "We've had high levels of sickness, but critically in December 2021, we lost the benefit of overtime working by our drivers."

His apology came after the operator faced renewed calls to be nationalised as an MP blasted 'one of the worst days yet for passengers'. On a day that the total figure of cancellations and disrupted trains stood at a huge 120, Louise Haigh, the shadow transport secretary, said the government 'cannot pretend' the management is 'blameless in this farce'.

She urged the Prime Minister to strip the company of its contract and bring it under the Operator of Last Resort. Northern mayors also called for train services run by TransPennine Express to be brought under public control at a major regional conference in Manchester.

Northern mayors have called for TransPennine Express services to be publicly controlled (James Speakman/PA Wire)

The Labour leaders urged the government to cancel the rail company's contract complaining of years of 'poor' service at the Convention of the North. It followed a speech by Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove at the annual convention in which he set out the government's position on devolution.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham described Mr Gove's speech as 'positive', but said that the government must 'reshape the region's railways'. He said: "If we just put ourselves in the real world of our residents, there is one thing that is bringing a lot of negativity to the North at the moment, dragging down our economies and actually dragging down people's lives and their wellbeing.

"That is the failing train services across the North of England. We are in a position where we can't accept it anymore, we can't allow them to damage our economy day after day.

"We can't allow them to damage people's lives day after day. There has to come a point where you say you can't accept this anymore. We're at that point."

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