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Rail disruption in the North estimated to cost businesses more than £38m

Lancashire business chiefs today said commuters had been “short changed” by rail operators after disruption in the North was estimated to have cost businesses more than £38m.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has urged the Prime Minister to step in personally to end the rail chaos.

Rail fiasco has cost North 38m

Rail fiasco has cost North 38m

And today Alan Welsh,policy manager of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “There is no doubt that rail passengers in our region have been short-changed by those involved in running the region’s rail network.

READ MORE: Severe disruption on first day of new Northern timetables

“Passengers and businesses deserve much better and those responsible must do everything they can to ensure that mistakes around timetables, driver shortages and overrunning engineering works are not repeated. “

In a letter to Theresa May, Mr Burnham wrote that performance on Northern services “continued to be poor” following Mr Grayling’s statement in May that the issue was the number one priority for his department.

It came as a report by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP) revealed a major impact on businesses, commuters and families, with former chancellor George Osborne calling for powers including spending to be devolved to Transport for the North.

It said that businesses had lost almost £38 million because of Northern Rail disruption, with the cost up to £1.3 million a day at its worst.

And some Trans Pennine routes had seen half of services cancelled or seriously delayed on the worst days.

The full cost to the North is likely to be considerably higher, as while Northern Rail provided figures for its affected services, Trans Pennine did not.

Over the entire period, using Northern Rail figures, 945,180 hours were lost to delays, an average of 22,504 per day.

Mr Burnham pointed out that in the first three weeks of its emergency timetable, introduced in June, services in its central region arriving on time had declined to 77.2 per cent , compared to 88.4 per cent in the corresponding period last year.

Paul Foster, Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses said: “The current problems on our rail services are down to chronic under-funding of services and infrastructure for decades. We have become accustomed to poor services over a period of time whether it be late trains, cancelled services or overcrowded carriages for those commuters ‘lucky’ enough to be able to get on a train at all.

"The current problems should be the final bell for the way these services have been run. Commuters and businesses have had to suffer the consequences with productivity taking a hit. It is right that with devolution from London now accepted as being a positive that we in the North can take control of our own future when it comes to planning and running the transport systems we need.”