May 11, 2023 4.00 pm This story is over 10 months old

Cleethorpes MP welcomes takeover of ‘appalling’ TransPennine service

A quarter of its trains were cancelled in January and February

By Local Democracy Reporter

The MP for Cleethorpes has welcomed TransPennine Express being brought under government control following a series of “unreliable” and “appalling” services.

The service operates services to and from northern Lincolnshire, including Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe, on its southern routes.

TransPennine Express’ rail services will now be run by the government, after a quarter of its trains were cancelled in January and February of this year.

The decision has been supported by Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers, who has regularly spoke out against the disruption to train services in his constituency.

Mr Vickers said: “To have [continued the contract] would be to reward failure. For the past 18 months, the service on the Cleethorpes-Manchester route has ranged from unreliable to appalling.

“I recognise the dispute with the unions has been a factor but the many assurances I have received from the company that things would improve have proved equally unreliable.

“Of course things won’t improve overnight but this is a step in the right direction and I urge the unions to show goodwill, reach an agreement about rest day working and let’s deliver a service that my constituents deserve.”

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s decision to not renew or extend TPE’s contract at the end of the month means the company will be brought into operator of last resort from May 28.

This means a business will step in on behalf of the government to manage the service.

It comes after months of regular cancellations and disruption across the network, resulting in what the government calls a “considerable decline in confidence for passengers”.

A spokesperson for TransPennine Express said: “We can confirm that today the Secretary of State has announced that the operation of the TransPennine Express service will transfer to a new Government operator – DOHL – on 28 May 2023.

“All tickets remain valid and customers should continue to use and purchase tickets in the normal manner.

“Further communications relating to TransPennine Trains Ltd as a DOHL operator will be made after the transfer takes place on 28 May 2023.”

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said: “In my time as Transport Secretary, I have been clear that passenger experience must always come first. After months of commuters and Northern businesses bearing the brunt of continuous cancellations, I’ve made the decision to bring TransPennine Express into operator of last resort.

“This is not a silver bullet and will not instantaneously fix a number of challenges being faced, including ASLEF’s actions which are preventing Transpennine Express from being able to run a full service – once again highlighting why it’s so important that the railways move to a 7-day working week.

“We have played our part, but ASLEF now need to play theirs by calling off strikes and the rest day working ban, putting the very fair and reasonable pay offer to a democratic vote of their members.”

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