RAIL CHAOS rapidly spread across the length and breadth of the UK as new train timetables coming into force yesterday hit serious problems, leaving passengers stranded and prompting trade union TSSA to call for rail renationalisation.
Cancellations and delays caused havoc for rail commuters on the first working day of new train timetables as staff shortages and signalling problems affected rail network after rail network.
Passengers travelling with Transpennine Express (TPE), which operates across the north of England and into Scotland, appeared to suffer the worst disruption.
Rail data website trains.im stated at 9am that 47% of the firm’s services were either cancelled or at least half an hour late.
Affected routes included those linking Manchester Airport with Edinburgh and Newcastle, and trains from Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough.
The major shake-up included introducing non-stop trains between London and Bristol as well as 1,000 more services a week across the country.
Many trains operated by Northern Rail were cancelled due to a shortage of drivers, with affected services including between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport, Leeds to York and Sheffield, and Darlington to Saltburn.
Rail staff union TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, called for the Northern franchise to be nationalised. Cortes said: ‘Northern is beyond a joke and needs to be put out of its misery. The company said the timetable changes would bring reliability and stability – but as usual what we get is chaos.
‘No more excuses – Northern has utterly failed and that has been the case not for months but years. It must be taken back into public hands now and (Transport Secretary) Grant Shapps must wake up to the fact.
‘Millions of people are being badly let down by Northernfail and other franchises such as TransPennine. They are rightly angry and we will stand with them in demanding change.’
Passenger Sarah Evans from Cardiff was upset with the new Transport for Wales services, saying: ‘Great new timetable change with the 7.24am from Pontypridd. Reduce four carriages down to two. This was the only train that wasn’t standing room only in the morning from Ponty. Now this!’
Passengers on Great Western Railway (GWR) suffered cancellations and delays between Reading and London Paddington due to a fault with the signalling system at Maidenhead.
GWR and Transport for Wales reported a slew of cancellations and delays when the new timetables were launched on Sunday.
And the RMT strike continued with rock solid support on South Western Railway, over their battle to keep the guard on the train.