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With Northern passengers still experiencing delays and cancellations more than two weeks after the introduction of a new timetable, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has now said fares on affected lines should be cut temporarily.
Northern implemented an emergency timetable this morning that will see 165 daily services removed until 29 July.
However, many passengers are still reporting delays and cancellations on the reduced timetable, which Northern says are the result of a lack of train drivers.
Burnham has now written to John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North, asking the organisation to take steps to protect passengers, including a temporary reduction in fares and compensation for those with advance and season tickets.
He said: “Many Northern passengers are already significantly out of pocket following recent disruption. Now, people who have bought advance or season tickets valid in the next two months face receiving a lower level of service than was being offered when they bought those tickets.”
Burnham has also called for Northern tickets to be accepted on other services.
He went on to say he does not believe the reduced timetable was devised with passengers in mind, saying the service is Northern’s “view of what it is prepared to provide rather than what is right for the public”. He said Transport for the North should reserve the right to request changes to the schedule or for services to be reinstated.
The letter comes after Burnham labelled the Northern service “unacceptably poor” and RMT union general secretary Mick Cash called on transport secretary Chris Grayling and rail bosses to resign over the failure.
David Brown, managing director of Northern, told BBC Breakfast the emergency timetable would “take two or three days to bed in” and apologised to affected passengers, saying the firm was “putting all our efforts” into fixing the situation.
The new timetable was introduced to improve punctuality and allow for increased capacity, but Grayling has blamed Network Rail for being “far too late in finalising planned timetable changes”.