Blackpool's rail route at centre of training row

A Northern Rail train
A Northern Rail train
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Unions have blamed train operator Northern for the low number of services operating when the Blackpool North line re-opened.

This week Northern is hoping to have two trains an hour on the line but since April 16 there has only been one.

Rumours have been circulating that drivers’ union Aslef was dragging its feet over training for the 400 drivers who will use the new signalling, but it hit back saying the men needed to travel on the line several times for safety reasons before driving.

An Aslef spokesman said: “As a trade union we want a safe railway for those who use and work on the permanent way. Drivers need to be properly trained to keep everyone on our railway safe. Train companies like to blame anyone but themselves for problems usually self-inflicted.

“The truth, though, is that Northern, in common with most of the other privatised train companies, does not employ enough staff to deliver the service it promised, in its franchise application, to deliver. It is interested not in running a public service, but in making money for its shareholders.”

A spokesman for Northern said: “Our driver training programme for the Blackpool North to Preston line continues as planned and, from this week, we will be running two trains per hour on that route.”

Read also: Here's what a Northern Rail director said when confronted by another cancelled train