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It’s been another week of chaos on Bolton’s trains. Every day there have been huge numbers of cancellations, delays and short-formed services with poor passenger information leaving people hugely frustrated.

Following on from my blog two weeks ago I again contacted Northern rail to ask why there seemed to be no plan in place to handle the driver shortage. It can’t be right that day to day, hour to hour, nobody seems to know which services will run and which will not. Northern have provided no answers to this.

The lack of transparency from Northern is a big problem and damages their reputation almost as much as their poor service.

For weeks all they have said that the current disruption is all down to driver training on the Blackpool line. They’ve repeatedly said this to passengers at stations, they said it to me in person, they’ve said it in press releases and letters as well.

Today I received a newsletter from Northern which confirms that there is another problem that they haven’t mentioned before. Their business is reliant on drivers working on their contracted rest days and that arrangement has not been in place for three months.

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Northern need to remember that they are operating a public service and they are accountable. When there are problems they need to be open and honest. When they fail to provide a service they should be held accountable.

This has gone on long enough and the Government can’t keep ignoring the problem. I've put my name to a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to launch an urgent inquiry and hold Northern to account for their failings.

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Update: Northern’s Driver Shortage

It’s been another week of chaos on Bolton’s trains. Every day there have been huge numbers of cancellations, delays and short-formed services with poor passenger information leaving people hugely frustrated....

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During the General Election I raised concerns that local schools were facing huge cuts to their budgets under the Conservative plans to change the funding formula.

I’ve met with head teachers who are worried that they will need to cut back on staff and there have been many reports of teachers spending money out of their own pocket to buy basic supplies for students.

Pressure from Labour forced the Government to amend their funding plans. Schools will not be hit as hard thanks to that, but every school in my constituency bar one is still facing a cut to their budget. It’s not good enough and I will continue to campaign for our schools.

Today we have seen the Tories commit £50m to expand Grammar schools - www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/grammar-schools-score-50-million-12514523

We have also seen them commit millions of pounds to open more Free schools under their controversial pet project- www.tes.com/news/more-free-schools-set-north-and-midlands

At a time when our schools are being forced to cut staff and resources this is the wrong approach.

If the Government can find extra money for education, it should be supporting ALL of our schools.

Fund all our schools

During the General Election I raised concerns that local schools were facing huge cuts to their budgets under the Conservative plans to change the funding formula. I’ve met with head...

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Just a quick trains update for you as everyone heads back to work today.

The local service has been even worse than usual the last few weeks with many cancellations at short notice and greater use of short-formed trains. Northern say the situation will improve once additional drivers have been trained on the Blackpool line.

I wanted to find a way to improve the situation in the short term, and made this suggestion on social media:

The response to this was broadly positive. On the whole people accept that Northern are facing challenges, they just want clear information so that they know how to make sure they get to their destination on time with minimal discomfort.

I wrote to Northern on Wednesday 2nd May to raise three questions:
- When do Northern expect the driver situation to be resolved and a full timetable to be run?
- Will Northern run some rail replacement services in the interim and set a timetable that meets the number of drivers so passengers know what to expect?
- Why can carriages from the cancelled trains not then be used to top up the train that follows it in the schedule in order to prevent short-formed services?

Please find below Northern’s response, dated 3rd May.

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Northern's driver shortage

Just a quick trains update for you as everyone heads back to work today. The local service has been even worse than usual the last few weeks with many cancellations...

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