The Secretary of State for Transport has announced that the contract of Transpennine Express (TPE) will not be renewed or extended.
Effective from the end of this month, the company will be taken over by the Operator of Last Resort (OLR) starting May 28th.
This means the Government will take over running the beleaguered rail network.
The decision comes in the wake of months of severe disruption and frequent cancellations experienced by TPE passengers.
Such ongoing issues have greatly eroded the confidence of commuters and individuals relying on the rail services for their daily activities, including work and visiting loved ones.
Efforts had been made by the Department for Transport to improve TPE services, including implementing a recovery plan in February and engaging in discussions with local Mayors to find a way forward.
Although some progress has been achieved over the past few months, it has been concluded that both the contract and the underlying relationships need to be reset in order to meet the expectations of passengers and support the economic growth of the Northern region.
While acknowledging that Transpennine Express has faced numerous challenges beyond its control, such as a shortage of trained drivers and the need to reform workforce operations, the Department recognizes that resolving these issues requires a reset.
One significant factor contributing to the problems has been ASLEF’s (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) decision to withdraw rest day working, preventing drivers from taking on additional shifts and filling service gaps.
It should be noted that the decision to bring TPE under the control of the OLR is temporary, with the government intending to eventually return the company to the private sector.
However, it is important to emphasize that this decision will not immediately resolve the challenges faced by TPE and its passengers.
Rather, it offers an opportunity to rebuild relationships between the operator, staff, trade unions, and passengers.
As a response to stakeholders’ calls for action, the Transport Secretary has instructed the Department for Transport to conduct a review of services in the North, aiming to drive efficiency and identify better ways to deliver for passengers across the region.
He has also called upon all interested parties, including the Northern Mayors and Transport for the North, to actively engage with the government on this initiative.
During the transition to OLR management, TPE services will continue to run as normal, with no changes to tickets, timetables, or planned operations.