TransPennine Express has issued a 'do not travel' alert as a 'system issue' is causing major disruption to services.
The train operator - which is already under fire for frequent cancellations and delays - issued the warning for today (Wednesday) and told customers to 'seek alternative means of transport'. Bosses said a 'significant rostering system issue' is causing a 'high level of unplanned cancellations' across services.
They apologised for the disruption. TransPennine Express customer service and operations director Kathryn O’Brien said: "Due to a significant rostering system issue, today we are experiencing a high level of unplanned cancellations and disruption across our network.
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"We know this will have a significant impact on customers travelling with us today and sincerely apologise for any disruption caused. We are working hard internally and with our system provider to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
"We are doing all we can to keep customers on the move but while problems persist, we advise customers not to travel and to seek alternative means of transport."
The FirstGroup-owned company has suffered problems for several months due to staffing issues. Earlier this month, the operator faced a grilling from councillors at a transport committee meeting - with one claiming there was 'no confidence' in the company or its plans ahead of the introduction of the new nationwide rail timetable.
The mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, meanwhile, confirmed in a message sent to the meeting that he would be asking for the company's 'contract to be terminated when it expires in May' unless there's a major reduction in cancellations by February. He called the current performance by rail operators serving Greater Manchester 'unacceptable and worse than the May 2018 timetable fiasco'.
George Thomas, business development director at TPE, apologised as he admitted the start of the new timetable would be 'challenging'. He pointed to a training backlog, sickness, mental heath and a larger number of people leaving the business than they expected.
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