Northern agrees deal with Aslef to ease Blackpool's weekend train cancellations nightmare

Blackpool’s weekend woe on the railway looks set to be coming to an end after an agreement between train and union bosses.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 5:00 pm

Travellers heading to and from the resort have faced cancelled trains and delays because operator Northern struggled to get enough drivers to work extra hours to cover Sunday shortfalls.

It has meant Sunday cancellations being announced on Fridays, causing misery, particularly for elderly and disabled passengers who may require extra help on their journeys and need to be certain that their train will be running.

It has also meant that, in summer, people visiting the report by train often found their return journey on Sundays had been cancelled.

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One of the new Northern trains which should help improve services
One of the new Northern trains which should help improve services

Northern had been left with the problem due to contracts in place before it took over the franchise.

On the east side of the country, its drivers normally worked a seven day week, whereas on the west the weekends could only be covered by drivers agreeing to work on their rest days.

But now Northern has confirmed that a resolution has been found with train union Aslef from January 26. Details of the deal have not been released but staff voted 57 per cent to accept the deal.

A Northern spokesman said: “We welcome our drivers voting in favour of this new proposal. We are now implementing all the elements of the proposal which will include items that will see a more resilient Sunday service, on the small number of routes that have seen cancellations.

One of the Sunday cancellation warnings Northern has had to issue over the past two years

“We have worked with driver’s representatives for over eighteen months to develop this plan and this is only the first steps on our journey towards improved and more resilient ways of working.”

A union spokesman said: “Aslef has agreed to introduce a productivity arrangement with Arriva Rail North (Northern) that will provide more drivers available.”