It’s time for the UK Government to strip First Group of the franchise to run Transpennine Express rail services according to local Labour politicians.

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth and Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson have made the demand as the latest performance figures for the failing rail firm’s Scottish routes showed them performing worse than Northern Rail- whose franchise the Government plan to axe.

Figures from the Office of Road and Rail reveal that in Reporting Period 9 Transpennine Express had the worst Public Performance Measure (PPM) of any operator in the country, with just 58.1% of trains arriving with 10 minutes. Their performance on their Scotland routes was even worse, with just 42.5% of trains arriving within 10 minutes, the worst performance of any sub-operator in the country.

Its comes as it is reported that UK Government Ministers are eventually arranging to meet Transpennine Express bosses over their poor performance.

The Office of Rail Regulator- who oversee the performance of Network Rail who manage the railtracks but don’t have any powers over rail firms-  have also announced they have put the Government owned Network Rail “on a warning” with regards to its performance in the northwest and central regions of England, which impact on trains running late in Scotland.

South Scotland MSP and Scottish Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth said, “It is shameful that it has taken the UK Government months to notice the failings of Transpennine Express. Commuters from Lockerbie station have been treated as second-class passengers for far too long. The delays and cancellations for the company’s Scottish routes are now the worst in the UK of any rail firm and the recent fare hike of 37% simply showed this firms isn’t fit to run our trains. A slap on wrist by the UK Government isn’t going to be enough. For once the Government needs to stand up for passengers, not the big rail firms. Instead of First Group axing services the Government should axe First Group and remove the Transpennine Express franchise from them. The Government plan to end Northern’s rail franchise so why should Transpennine be treated any differently”.

Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson reiterated calls for Transpennine Express bosses to come to Lockerbie to face questions over their performance and proposed they join a planned new Lockerbie Station Liaison Group.  Adam Wilson said, “It appears the UK Conservative Government is finally waking up to the failures of its own rail franchise after months of chaos and scandalous fare hikes for passengers. But it’s not enough for Transpennine bosses to have meetings with the Government in London. They must also answer the invitation to face questions from passengers themselves, here in Lockerbie, by replying to the invite from SWESTRANS to sit on the Lockerbie Station Liaison Group. Passengers have suffered for far too long, we are ready to set up a Lockerbie Station Liaison Group meeting once TP Express give us a positive reply.”

As well as the poor performance, Transpennine Express have recently:

  • axed the busy 10.32 am service from Lockerbie to Edinburgh for the next five months- despite the train from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh still passing through Lockerbie station.
  • told passengers with mobility scooters they need to apply for a pass to take their scooter on new trains on a journey by journey basis for the foreseeable future rather than be able to apply for the current annual pass
  • put on hold seat reservations for the foreseeable future as the company change rolling stock on services.
  • Increased fares by upto 37%
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