TransPennine Express is to be brought under government control due to “continuous cancellations”, it has been announced.
Following what has been several months of significant disruption and regular cancellations for rail passengers across the UK, which the Government says has resulted in “a considerable decline in confidence” for those who rely on the trains to get to work, visit family and friends, and go about their daily lives, it’s been announced today that TransPennine Express (TPE) is to be brought under Government control.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper has confirmed that he will not renew or extend the train operator’s contract at the end of this month.
This will therefore bring the company into what is known as ‘operator of last resort’ from 28 May.
Over the past couple on months, especially from February onwards when the operating company was put on a ‘recovery plan’ and a meeting was held with local Mayors to “discuss a way forward”, the Department for Transport (DfT) has been working with TPE to improve services – but those improvements have not been sufficient, leading the Government to come to a decision that both TPE’s contract and the underlying relationships “must be reset”.
The Government says this decision has been made to achieve the performance levels that passengers deserve, as well as “what the Northern economy needs”.
In has been stressed by the Government, however, that today’s decision to take control of TPE will not “instantaneously resolve” the challenges, but as mentioned, will provide opportunity to reset relationships between the operator, staff, trade unions, and passengers.
“In my time as Transport Secretary, I have been clear that passenger experience must always come first,” Transport Secretary Mark Harper said of the decision.
“After months of commuters and Northern businesses bearing the brunt of continuous cancellations, I’ve made the decision to bring Transpennine Express into operator of last resort [but] this is not a silver bullet and will not instantaneously fix a number of challenges being faced.”
Mr Harper has also called on train drivers’ union ASLEF to “play their part” by calling off all upcoming strikes and the rest day working ban – which prevents drivers from taking on overtime shifts and filling in gaps on services.
He wants the operator to put, what he calls, the Government’s “very fair and reasonable pay offer” to a democratic vote of their members.
What will ‘operator of last resort’ mean?
The Government has explained that under ‘operator of last resort’, TPE services will run as normal with no changes to tickets, timetables, or planned services.
The DfT is apparently “committed to ensuring a seamless transition” for all passengers.
It has also been stressed that the move to bring TPE into the control of the operator of last resort is only a temporary move, and it is the Government’s “full intention” that the company will eventually return to the private sector.
It is understood that no timeline for this has been set out or revealed as of yet.
Featured Image – Jonny Walton (via TPE)
Family of murdered Salah Adam Eldin, 21, pay tribute to ‘beautiful son and true hero’
The family of Salah Adam Eldin, a 21-year-old stabbed to death in Old Trafford last week, have paid a heartbreaking tribute to a ‘genuine and loving soul’.
Salah sadly died on Wednesday 31 May after he was found with serious injuries on Kings Road.
A murder investigation has been launched, and 19-year-old Demari Adrian Raymond Rose has been charged with murder and possession of a bladed article.
Salah’s family have described him as ‘the backbone of the family’ and described his respectful, kind and caring nature.
They wrote that support has poured in from across the globe, saying that ‘he was so much to so many people’.
In a tribute issued through GMP, his family said: “Salah was the backbone of the family and carried the family through anything and everything. He was our precious, beautiful son and a true hero.
“He was a supportive brother and precious son, a most genuine and loving soul with a big heart. He always found space in his heart to forgive all.
“He was always respectful and had kind words to say for all, everyone who met him wanted to be friends with him and was respected by all people of all ages.
“We are immensely proud of him. The continuous tributes from his friends, as far and wide as Africa, North America, The Middle East, Europe and from every corner of the world as well as here at home in England, his friends coming with heavy hearts and tears of deep sadness.
“Yes, our heart is filled with grief and pain, the reality that we will no longer hear his voice on the end of the phone. We grieve and wait for the day that we will one day all be reunited as a family together again and it will be forever.
“As a family we are able to support one another with the help of the wonderful friends and family that we have in the community and beyond. The support has been immeasurable, with everyone suffering the same pain and loss of Salah. He was so much to so many people. His short time in this world, he has his legacy of being a kind and caring young man and so loved. The amount of people who have reached out to support us, it is overwhelming and yet wonderful at the same time.
“As a mother, I have no words to describe the depth of my pain, grief and sorrow that I am going through, and I wish no mother must experience the layers of sadness and grief that I and Salah’s siblings and family are going through.
“Our lives have changed forever and we thank Greater Manchester Police for doing all they can to get justice and who have been very supportive, and we thank endless stream of friends and the community from the bottom of our hearts for their continuous love and support that they give us.”
Salah’s family have asked for continued privacy while they grieve for their loss.
Featured image: GMP
Coronation Street legend Julie Goodyear diagnosed with dementia
Coronation Street legend Julie Goodyear, who famously played the iconic character Bet Lynch for over 25 years, has sadly been diagnosed with dementia.
Issuing a statement via ITV, her husband Scott Brand confirmed that they had been given the “heartbreaking diagnosis” this week.
Goodyear, 81, played the legendary Rovers Return pub landlord for over two decades across two different spells on the show, starting in 1966 before leaving the show for good in 1995.
Brand told the outlet on Wednesday: “Unfortunately, Julie has been suffering forgetfulness for some time and we have been seeking medical advice and assistance, but we now know that there is no hope of a reversal in the situation – and that her condition will get progressively, and perhaps speedily, worse.”
He went on to say that he and Goodyear “have taken the decision to publicly announce the diagnosis as Julie still loves visiting friends and eating out”, noting that she inevitably gets recognised “and fans love to meet her – and she them – but she can get confused particularly if she is tired” and adding they “hope people will understand.”
The Manc soap star and household name is from Heywood in Rochdale and retired from acting in 2003 after making her final special appearance on the Coronation Street spin-off, After Hours.