North Yorkshire County Council has revealed it is “keeping a close eye” on First Transpennine Express as the company looks to put a summer of cancellations behind it.
Graham North, a member of the council’s Business and Environmental Services team, told a meeting of the Scarborough and Whitby Constituency Committee today that the franchise had made a significant timetable change to try and reduce the number of delayed and cancelled trains.
Mr North admitted that the council had left the firm in no doubt as to its unhappiness after numerous reports over the summer of trains bound for Scarborough terminating at Malton.
He told the councillors: “We are not happy with Transpennine and what they have done with the Scarborough line.”
He said that in the three days since the company introduced a new timetable on Sunday (9th) there had been just one cancellation and one delay of more than 30 minutes on the Manchester to Scarborough service.
Mr North called this a “significant improvement” on a four week period during May and June this summer when 60 trains running between York and Scarborough were cancelled due to services running late.
Mr North told councillors that earlier and later services had been introduced as well as a new hourly service between Scarborough and York.
The hourly service will lead to the current seating capacity on the line increasing from 169 to around 400 seats an hour.
He added that a slow Leeds to Manchester service that was holding up trains bound for Scarborough had been broken up which should help to reduce delays.
While Mr North said that further route upgrades would be coming from 2019 to 2026 Cllr Tony Randerson (Lab) said that future changes would come too late.
He said: “It’s always mañana (tomorrow), we want it today but it will come tomorrow and, frankly, I’m disappointed and I’m not filled with any great enthusiasm.”
Cllr Andrew Jenkinson added: “I know a dentist who travelled every day from York to Scarborough by train who has now handed in his resignation as he could not get backwards and forwards to work.
“When you have a link that is unreliable it causes damage. [The delays] are unforgivable. There is no excuse.”
Mr North told councillors the council was monitoring the service to and from Scarborough “daily” and would be “keeping a close eye” on how the new timetable was working.
This week, it was revealed that Scarborough has closed in on the 1 million passenger mark annually as just over 990,000 people used the station in the last 12 months. An increase of nearly a third in the last 10 years alone.