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Customer Information -
Travel Warning - Merseyside & Cheshire 28/29 May
Customer Information -
New timetables and planned disruption

Message to Northern train customers from Liam Sumpter, Regional Director

27 April 2018
On behalf of Northern I would like to apologise for the delays and cancellations passengers have been experiencing, especially over the last couple of weeks. I know this has been causing people to be delayed reaching their destinations and for that we’re very sorry. I wanted to take the opportunity, following conversations with the Mayor of Greater Manchester, to explain the issues we’re facing.

The root cause of the delays and cancellations we are facing on some lines around Manchester is the major engineering work to electrify the Blackpool line, which overran by approximately three weeks. This meant the train line was not handed back in time for us to train our 400+ drivers who operate the routes around Blackpool. Drivers need to undergo comprehensive route training due to the brand new infrastructure around Blackpool, before we can run passenger train services and that takes time.

Once the line was handed back to us on 16th April, we decided to run a very limited train service for passengers on the Blackpool line, whilst we continue with the driver training programme, rather than keep the line fully closed for even longer. Unfortunately this means we are temporarily facing some driver shortages as we continue to train our drivers, who operate from our depots in Manchester, Wigan, Liverpool, Blackpool and Leeds whilst trying to run a full service on all other routes at the same time.

These temporary driver shortages mean we are very thin on the ground and lack resilience when things go wrong meaning we are having to make last minute changes to a number of services, which in turn, is causing the delays and cancellations.

Our planning teams are working hard with our colleagues at Network Rail, our partners in the Great North Rail Project, to rectify these issues and I expect the situation to significantly improve with each passing week until we complete the driver training by mid-May.

I appreciate this is a far from ideal situation which is causing our customers frustration and disruption, which we’re sorry for. I’d like to personally assure you that we’re doing everything possible to rectify this and get back to the good level of service you expect and deserve.

Liam Sumpter

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