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Rail chaos: northern train companies to face Transport Committee

13 December 2022

Representatives of northern train operators whose customers are experiencing delays and cancellations – Avanti West Coast, Northern Trains and TransPennine Express – will face questions from the Transport Committee. 


The latest quarterly figures from the Office for Road and Rail (ORR) covering July to September found that just 38.8% of Avanti West Coast trains were on time. The figure for TransPennine Express was 55.8%, and Northern's punctuality was 62.0%. The national figure was 66.7% for trains running on time overall.  

The ORR recently said that staffing issues have been to blame, particularly due to pandemic-related delays to driver training and early retirement. A failure between trade unions, operators and ministers to agree a ‘rest day working agreement’ for more flexible staff deployment has also been blamed. 

Purpose of the session

The cross-party Committee will question the three operators on what they are doing to improve services and why so many services are being cancelled at short notice. There may also be questions around the Government funding they receive for running the service. 

Before the operators take their seats, the Committee will question a panel comprising the FT’s Northern Correspondent Jennifer Williams; Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith; and the Chair and Chief Executive of Transport for the North (respectively), Lord Patrick McLoughlin and Martin Tugwell. MPs will want to learn about the experiences of customers and the damage that poor rail services are causing to local economies, businesses and communities across the north of England. 

Despite the difficulties, some data suggests that northern train services have seen the biggest bounce back in terms of passenger demand after the covid pandemic. 


Wednesday 14 December, Committee Room 8 

Panel 1, from 9:15    

  • Rt Hon Lord McLoughlin, Chair, Transport for the North 
  • Martin Tugwell, Chief Executive, Transport for the North 
  • Anthony Smith, Chief Executive, Transport Focus 
  • Jennifer Williams, Northern Correspondent, FT 

Panel 2, from 10:15    

  • Nick Donovan, Managing Director, Northern Trains 
  • Matthew Golton, Managing Director, TransPennine Express 
  • Richard Scott, Director of Corporate Affairs, West Coast Partnership (representing Avanti West Coast) 

Further information

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