The British government will take control of TransPennine Express due to major customer complaints over poor services.

The rail operator, which covers Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, had the highest rate of cancelled services in the UK between January and February.

Almost a quarter of its services were cancelled. 

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The number improved to around one in six in March, but TransPennine was still the worst-performing train operator regarding cancellations. 

The Department for Transport has announced that TransPennine’s contract would not be renewed on 28 May and would be run by the Operator of Last Resort (OLR).

The OLR is a business that steps in on behalf of the government to take over the management of rail service. 

The transport secretary, Mark Harper, said that taking TransPennine under state control was “not a silver bullet and will not instantaneously fix a number of challenges being faced.” 

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TransPennine, run by FirstGroup, has blamed staff shortages for the number of trains it has cancelled the night before they are due to run.

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Northern, London, and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Southeastern Trains are all currently run by the OLR.

Scotrail, Transport for Wales, and Northern Ireland Railways are also nationalized. 

Based on the latest figures, when the OLR takes over TransPennine’s contract, more than one in five train journeys in Britain could be run by nationalized companies.

The ongoing disruption to TransPennine services since early 2022 has been blamed on high staff sickness rates, a backlog of driver training, and the lack of an overtime working agreement with the drivers’ union Aslef. 

The transport secretary also blamed strikes by Aslef for hampering a full service on TransPennine routes. 

However, Aslef said that was “misleading” and that the blame should lie with the company’s “inept management.”

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