Rail passengers urged to sign Northern petition

Crowded train Image copyright Daniel Fulton/PA Wire
Image caption Northern says it operates 2,000 more services a week than when it took on the franchise

Northern rail passengers have been urged by the mayor of Liverpool City Region to sign an open letter demanding the operator loses its franchise.

Steve Rotheram said in the letter to the transport secretary that passengers were "sick of unending delays, cancellations and overcrowding".

It follows cancellations on Monday after new timetables were launched.

Northern said it is running a record number of services but a lack of new tracks has affected its punctuality.

'Lottery for passengers'

Mr Rotheram and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham called on the government to take control of Northern in May, accusing it of breaking promises to passengers by failing to deliver improvements a year after widespread timetable rail chaos.

Urging people "across the North" to "join me in making this call" to the Department of Transport, Mr Rotheram said recent figures revealed fewer than half of Northern trains arrived on time between October and November.

In the letter to Grant Shapps, Mr Rotheram wrote: "Travelling by train in the north of England has become a lottery for passengers forced to contend with not knowing whether their train will be on time or even turn up at all.

"Passengers are sick of unending delays, cancellations and overcrowding on services operated by Northern."

He claimed "people have lost their jobs because they couldn't get to work on time, missed hospital appointments or been unable to visit friends and family".

A Northern spokesperson said it now operates 2,000 more services each week than at the start of its franchise in 2016, adding: "By the end of the year almost 110m journeys will have been made using Northern trains in 2019... a record for the north."

However, the spokesperson said there has been "no real increase in track capacity" leading to "congested railways... which has taken its toll on punctuality".

They added a number of extreme weather events, including flooding in September and November, further impacted performance."

The Department for Transport has been contacted by the BBC for comment.

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