Train boss slated for be­lit­tling pas­sen­gers’ gripes in tweets

Glossop Advertiser - - News - Char­lotte Cox

THE boss of North­ern Rail has come un­der fire for ‘ag­gres­sive tweets’ in which he tells pas­sen­gers they’re blocked, and be­lit­tles their fail­ure to ‘grasp the ba­sics’.

Amid months of strike ac­tion, de­lays and over­crowd­ing, Liam Sumpter of­ten has to deal with com­plaints on so­cial me­dia.

In many of his re­sponses on his ac­count @net­tle­croft, Mr Sumpter, the Ar­riva Rail North di­rec­tor, ex­plains the cir­cum­stances and back­ground.

How­ever, our sis­ter paper the M.E.N. has re­ceived com­plaints re­gard­ing his replies in some cases. North­ern say the boss ‘chooses to en­gage di­rectly with cus­tomers’ and deals with ‘crit­i­cism and tough top­ics’, but Mr Sumpter’s ac­count has since been made pri­vate.

One ex­am­ple came af­ter GM Mayor Andy Burn­ham tweeted that he would be look­ing into a number of com­plaints of ‘poor ser­vice’ from the op­er­a­tor.

When a pas­sen­ger in­formed Mr Burn­ham that Mr Sumpter never replied, Mr Sumpter tweeted at him: “Not to yours Si­mon as they’re pretty much non­sense and never ask a sen­si­ble ques­tion. So...I’ll just ●● Liam Sumpter and one of the tweets that have at­tracted crit­i­cism block you to save us both time. See Ya.” And dur­ing a Twit­ter row over op­er­a­tor prof­its and fund­ing, he told a pas­sen­ger: “As for profit fit and d sub­sidy, b id I’ I’m sorry to say your grasp of the ba­sics is so, so lim­ited that you should prob­a­bly go and re­search it if you want tt to un­der­stand d t d it b bett ter.” He also wrote he would block another fol­lower ‘so I don’t stum­ble across his vile id­iocy again’.

Pas­sen­ger Mike Smith, who com­mutes on the Bolton line, which has been plagued with over­crowd­ing is­sues, has ac­cused Mr Sumpter of ‘tak­ing North­ern’s cus­tomer ser­vice back­wards’.

He said: “His ag­gres­sive and con­de­scend­ing na­ture when com­mu­ni­cat­ing with cus­tomers is frankly un­ac­cept­able.

“Like many cus­tomers, I am hav­ing to en­dure a ter­ri­ble ser­vice at the m mo­ment. Cus­tomers’ pa pa­tience is be­ing tested to th the limit, so do you hones es­tly believe that in his p po­si­tion as a di­rec­tor of th the com­pany, Mr Sumpter is truly rep­re­sent­ing N North­ern in the best light by be­ing rude and ar­gum men­ta­tive with pay­ing cu cus­tomers when en­gag­ing w with them on Twit­ter?

“I am sure if sta­tion staff sp spoke to peo­ple in this w way, it wouldn’t be tol­erat ated.”

A North­ern spokesman sa said: “Rather than rely on th the cor­po­rate Twit­ter handl dle, Liam chooses to en­gage di­rectly with cus­tomers, mak­ing it clear in his pro­file that the views are his own.

“Through Q&As, videos and re­spond­ing to en­quiries and crit­i­cism di­rectly, he deals with some of the tough top­ics such as strike ac­tion, dis­rup­tion and de­lays. This open­ness is ap­pre­ci­ated by many and these two ex­am­ples are iso­lated and do not re­flect the pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tions he has with cus­tomers.”

Over the last year, North­ern ser­vices have been blighted by strike ac­tion as staff dis­pute plans for driver-only trains. A SCI­EN­TIST from Manch­ester has been awarded £80,000 to help fund her work into the se­ri­ous auto-im­mune con­di­tion lu­pus.

Dr Tracy Briggs, of the Univer­sity of Manch­ester and Manch­ester Univer­sity NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, was one of three re­searchers to be pre­sented with an Emerg­ing Lead­ers Prize by the Med­i­cal Re­search Foun­da­tion.

Lu­pus is caused when the body’s im­mune sys­tem at­tacks its own tis­sue.

It is most com­mon in young women but in rare cases can af­fect chil­dren.

Dr Briggs, who fo­cuses on the ge­net­ics of lu­pus, said: “Win­ning the Emerg­ing Leader’s Prize means I now have fund­ing for a tech­ni­cian to help with lab work and a bioin­for­mati­cian to help an­a­lyse ge­netic data.

“I can start to ask new ques­tions about the ge­netic driv­ers of lu­pus that I didn’t have the re­sources for be­fore.” ●●

Dr Tracy Briggs

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