Richard George was appointed by the Secretary of State to review the operational performance challenges on the railway in the north of England, following the introduction of the May 2018 timetable. That includes the performance of services operating through the Castlefield corridor, which includes Oxford Road. The Department continues to work with Transport for the North, Richard George and the industry to find solutions to improve performance.
A review simply is not good enough. More than three quarters of trains at Oxford Road do not comply with the timetable. We have had delays, cancellations, reviews. We need an immediate implementation of the Northern Hub investment programme —extra platforms at Salford, and extensions of platforms at Oxford Road, moving to new platforms 15 and 16. Will the Minister do that, and reject the ridiculous idea that this problem can be solved by digitalising the signalling system, when there is such mixed rolling stock on these rails?
The problem, which is clearly there because the Castlefield corridor is a bottleneck on our network, will be solved using a variety of solutions, some of which will be technical. Funding has been set aside in CP6 and we are working on what that will be spent on.
My constituents, who use the line from Oxford Road through my constituency to Liverpool Lime Street, continue to experience repeated delays and overcrowding, and they are told to expect that situation to continue at least until April. What penalties will Northern face, as much of this seems to be due to lack of rolling stock or of train crew?
If any of the train operating companies is in breach of its franchise, there are mechanisms to hold it to account. Northern is run through the Rail North partnership, which is a combination of the Department for Transport and Transport for the North.