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Don’t treat Hartlepool rail users like ‘second class citizens’ says MP

A Northern Rail pacer train.
A Northern Rail pacer train.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill says town rail passengers should not be treated like second class citizens after Government criticism of a local operator.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has ordered Northern, which runs rail services across the north of England including the North East, to use “whatever resources they need” to improve after a new timetable saw widespread cancellations and disruptions, especially in the North West.

Mr Grayling said the scale of the problems, also experienced by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) services, has far outstripped expectation.

The failure to deliver electrification of the line between Bolton and Preston in time for the new timetable on May 20 had delayed the introduction of new electric trains meaning there is a shortage of trains to cover planned increases in services.

Northern told the Mail last week that was having a knock on effect on capacity issues on other parts of the franchise such as Hartlepool.

Mr Hill said: “Having pressed hard for Northern Rail to improve its services in and out of Hartlepool, including increasing running times, the number of carriages per train and replacing the obsolete Pacers I was disappointed to find out that some things, like the replacement of rolling stock are literally being held up because of the company’s failures in other regions like the North West and Merseyside.”

He added: “In all honesty if the Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool can shout out about the poor performance of the operator and get the Government’s attention then I hope the Tory Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, can join me in saying we will not be treated like second class citizens here in Hartlepool and the Tees Valley and be the consequential victim of any under-performance of Northern Rail in other areas; we are after all supposed to be part of the Northern Powerhouse collectively with areas like the North West.

“Northern Rail is beginning to look like a busted flush, just like Virgin and Stagecoach on the East Coast Mainline and re-nationalisation of that franchise is looking like the only sensible and correct outcome.”

Northern and Network Rail has announced they will be commissioning an independent report and recommendations into processes leading up to the implementation of the timetable change.

It said the timetable change, the biggest in decades, is designed to boost capacity and services in the long-term.