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Burnley MP demands answers from Northern Rail boss

Burnley Manchester Road station
Burnley Manchester Road station
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Burnley MP Julie Cooper has met with under-fire Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and chief executive of Northern Rail David Brown to demand action over the ongoing rail chaos.

The Labour MP said she shared the fury many rail users in Burnley and Padiham felt after more than 50% of scheduled trains were delayed or cancelled since May 20th, when a new timetable was introduced.

Mrs Cooper met the embattled Secretary of State for Transport in Westminster to demand a solution to the crisis, who then arranged for her to meet the chief executive of Northern Rail, the company running the franchise in our area.

She said: “I met with the Secretary of State on Monday evening and complained long and hard. The main priority for me was how he was going to fix this as fast as possible.

“He apologised non-stop but we want to see action.”

Mrs Cooper also revealed she ‘tore a strip’ off David Brown when she met him on Wednesday.

She said: “David Brown assured me that we would see a vast improvement by the end of this week. I told him that if this was not the case I would be calling for the franchise to be taken away from Northern Rail.”

On several days in the last fortnight no less than 22 trains have been cancelled.

“Persistent lateness has already led to many employees receiving warnings and when they do finally get to work they have no reliable transport home,” Mrs Cooper added.

“This has also seriously impacted on child care arrangements, with families having to pay more because they aren’t able to pick their children up on time.

“I also know of the stress experienced by students travelling who have missed important exams at universities. This cannot go on as I spelled out to Mr Grayling.

“Infrastructure is vital for the success of our local economy. Not only are our roads in a dreadful state of repair, we now have train delays and cancellations on a grand scale.”

Mrs Cooper is now demanding compensation for those passengers affected and answers on why the revised timetable was allowed to go ahead when, she believes, not enough trained drivers were available.

She also said that gains made from the reinstatement of the Todmorden Curve could be jeapordised.

Mrs Cooper added: “It took decades for us to get the Todmorden Curve reopened so that we could have a direct rail link to Manchester.

“A lot of time and money was invested in this and when it began running in 2015 no one was more pleased than me because it opened up new opportunities for local people and businesses.

“It is a fact that millions of investment has come into Burnley as a direct result of this connection and this is now being jeopardised. We made our share of the bargain but Burnley is now being let down.”

The leader of Burnley Borough Council, Coun. Mark Townsend, also criticised the franchise owners over the chaos.

He said: “Northern Rail and Network Rail have failed rail users and the Government has failed to get a grip of the situation. If this was London in chaos the Government would have been quick to react but it’s the North and the response has been pathetic. Burnley rail users need solutions and they need them now.”