Short­age of train driv­ers sparks huge rail de­lays

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By CHRIS SLATER

DOZENS of train ser­vices were can­celled and de­layed yes­ter­day as pas­sen­gers were hit with chaos dur­ing the big Christ­mas get­away.

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple were head­ing to be with fam­ily on the last Sun­day be­fore the fes­tive pe­riod.

How­ever, there was anger as a large num­ber of train ser­vices in and out of Manch­ester were can­celled al­legedly at short no­tice and with­out warn­ing.

Many of the ser­vices that were run­ning were also over­crowded as a re­sult pas­sen­gers have claimed.

Tran­spen­nine Express say it is due to a short­age of avail­able driv­ers and staff with staff cur­rently be­ing trained on a new fleet of trains.

The com­pany run ser­vices from the cen­tral Manch­ester sta­tions to the air­port as well to cities in­clud­ing Ed­in­burgh, Glas­gow, Liver­pool, Sh­effield, Hull, Leeds, York, Scar­bor­ough, Mid­dles­brough and New­cas­tle.

FirstGroup, who run the fran­chise, or­dered 19 five-car­riage Nova trains from Hi­tachi in 2016, and they be­gan to be in­tro­duced onto the net­work last month.

How­ever the op­er­a­tor says the roll­out has been “hin­dered with is­sues” and that train­ing of staff has left them short staffed.

The firm also re­cently im­ple­mented a new timetable and as a re­sult have had to tem­po­rar­ily with­draw some ser­vices be­tween Liver­pool and New­cas­tle, some of which run through Manch­ester Vic­to­ria, from the timetable.

Pas­sen­gers were less than im­pressed and took to so­cial me­dia to vent their frus­tra­tion. Adam Rus­sell said on Twit­ter: “Train can­celled be­tween Manch­ester and New­cas­tle. No email, no an­nounce­ment, only found out by chance as I en­quired what plat­form my train was leav­ing from.”

Tran­spen­nine’s so­cial me­dia said they hoped ser­vices would im­prove to­day.

The M.E.N. has con­tacted the firm for com­ment.

AS the lat­est se­ries of The Ap­pren­tice came to an end, one of its con­tes­tants has cel­e­brated in an un­usual way.

Lewis El­lis has got a tat­too of Lord Alan Su­gar – de­spite the pair hav­ing a Twit­ter spat last month when the busi­ness­man called Lewis’ chest tat­toos ‘hor­rific’ as he live-tweeted along with an episode of the BBC show.

The Rochdale-born dig­i­tal mar­keter has now gone a step fur­ther and got an ink­ing of the 72-year-old – hold­ing a gun.

Ex­plain­ing the rea­son be­hind his new body art­work, which he got in Bolton, Lewis said: “I thought adding Lord Su­gar would be a great re­minder of my time on the show. I’ve al­ways said my tat­toos tell my story and now this part of my life is there for­ever.

The 29-year-old didn’t quite make it to last week’s fi­nal but he hasn’t given up on his dreams. He told the M.E.N. that he has ‘got zero in the bank’ but says he will ‘change that by mak­ing my busi­ness plan into a re­al­ity’.

Lewis El­lis and, right, his tat­too of Lord Su­gar

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