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Chaos on the train lines as privateers introduce emergency timetables

Passengers of both Northern Rail and GTR Southern have been subjected to weeks of chaotic delays and cancellations

PROFIT-HUNGRY Northern Rail introduced an emergency timetable today following two weeks of chaotic delays and cancellations, axing 125 of its regular trains.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said that, if Northern did not pay “substantial compensation” to passengers and cut fares, it should be fined by rail regulators.

He said: “Now that Northern is unilaterally cancelling thousands of services — that many season ticket holders have already paid for — passengers must be properly and fully compensated.”

Northern’s interim timetable is to last for eight weeks.

Chaos also continued on GTR Southern as it introduced a new emergency timetable today.

And the effects were swiftly felt by long-suffering passengers, according to railwatch website trains.im.

It reported that the number of cancellations or delays of more than 30 minutes at Northern and GTR reached 53 and 78 respectively by 11am.

Labour MPs demanded that beleaguered Transport Secretary Chris Grayling face the Commons, but his officials said: “There is nothing planned at this time.”

Rail unions reiterated calls for the failed privatisation project to be abandoned and the rail network taken back into public ownership and management.

The chaos at Northern and GTR began on Monday May 20, when the original new timetables were introduced, resulting in a surge in cancellations and delays on top of those that were already a feature of the companies’ operations.

Today’s emergency timetables were supposed to ease the situation, but appeared to make it worse.

Rail union RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “From the feedback on the ground and the stream of comments on social media it is clear that the so-called emergency timetables on both Northern and GTR have just piled failure onto failure.

“They should be removed and the private franchises brought under public control.”

Train drivers’ union Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said rail staff, including drivers, were battling to maintain services “during the difficulties created by the failures of the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the train-operating companies.”

And both unions highlighted that it was the rail staff who were at the sharp end of failing operations, facing abuse and aggression from frustrated passengers.

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