Scrap first class carriages until rail services improve, mayor demands

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Standard class train ticket holders should be allowed to use first class carriages in northern England until services improve, according to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

The Labour mayor said he “can’t see a justification” for only permitting passengers with more expensive tickets to use the compartments when people are being forced to stand for entire journeys.

Mr Burnham announced he will oppose a new timetable proposed by the rail industry for December 2022 unless ticket restrictions are eased.

He also demanded that any changes to Manchester’s services are accompanied by a schedule for “delivery of infrastructure that will solve our problem”, including easing the bottleneck in the Castlefield area of the city.

At a meeting of strategic transport body Transport for the North, Mr Burnham said the region was “promised an expanded timetable” in 2014, but “we are in completely the opposite position”.

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham said trains should be declassified ‘until we get back to the expanded timetable we were promised’ (PA)

If the timetable is implemented it will lead to many passengers “standing up all the way” between Manchester and Leeds due to a lack of seats, Mr Burnham claimed.

“Until we get back to the expanded timetable we were promised, the trains should be declassified.

“I can’t see a justification for first class compartments on trains where people can’t get a seat when they’re paying the ticket prices at the level that they are.

“I’m fed up with being fobbed off on this issue. The industry has not been able to give us a clear answer as to when this capacity will be put in place.”

In October, the Department for Transport insisted the new timetable will provide “more punctual, reliable journeys for passengers”.

TransPennine Express, which runs services between cities in the North and Scotland, operates first class carriages containing reclining seats and USB points.

Government-owned train operator Northern only has standard class compartments.

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