Network Rail infrastructure hold-ups have been blamed for ‘‘unacceptable’’ delays and cancellations during the introduction of new train timetables across the country.
The failure to deliver electrification between Bolton and Preston in time for the start of a new timetable on 20 May caused travel chaos in the north of England, Transport secretary Chris Grayling said.
Hundreds of Northern rail services have been cancelled, the Manchester Evening News reported, and others were delayed or stopped at fewer stations.
“The industry collectively has failed the passengers it serves”, Grayling wrote in a letter to MPs. “A combination of delayed Network Rail infrastructure works and reduced planning time meant that the new timetable was finalised much too late to permit adequate logistical planning for the timetable changes.”
Grayling also blamed Network Rail for failures on Thameslink routes into London. Only around half of Thameslink trains on the upgraded central London route were on schedule on Tuesday morning, The Guardian said.
Grayling added: “It is obvious that Network Rail’s current timetabling system simply cannot cope with the volume of work that it has to complete, and I have asked both the current leadership and the incoming chief executive, Andrew Haines, to ensure that this issue is addressed as a priority.
“Network Rail’s current performance on this is simply unacceptable.”
A Network Rail spokesman said: “Late timetables have certainly not helped the recent events but there are many other factors across the industry involved and we are looking at understanding the root cause so that future changes can be implemented more smoothly.”