Railway companies have apparently canceled thousands of trips through loopholes

Woman looking at a train timetable

A record 314,000 services were taken down in the year to October (Image: Shutterstock)

Railroad companies are using loopholes to cancel thousands of services without officially registering them – after selling tickets for the failed “ghost trains”.

A record 314,000 were grounded in the year to October 15, the Road and Rail Transport Agency has admitted – but that figure doesn’t include those hit by strikes, lost to “changed” timetables or the night before 22 clock failed.

Veteran rail expert Christian Wolmar uncovered the ruse, explaining: “I had a ticket for an 8am King’s Cross train – I looked at the station bulletin board and it wasn’t there. The man said there is no 8 o’clock train and I said I have a ticket for it. It was always on the timetable, but it had become a phantom train.’

He said of the official number – 3.8 per cent of services across the country: “I can’t remember a figure that high, but it’s irrelevant because it only represents cancellations on the day.”

Avanti West Coast was devastated by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week when it was revealed it had the worst official record at 7.7 percent cancellations. In the 12 weeks to mid-October, 60 percent of the trains that ran a year earlier were scheduled.

Govia Thameslink is second worst at 6.4 per cent while TransPennine Express – owned by the same company as Avanti – canceled 5.3 per cent.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham speaks on stage with Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian Katherine Viner (not pictured) during Britain's Labor Party annual conference in Liverpool, Britain September 25, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said people had lost confidence in rail travel (Image: Reuters)

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham called the hidden figures “outrageous”, adding: “There is no other word. People have lost confidence in trains.”

The government renewed Avanti West Coast’s contract last month but said it would lose him in April unless he “improves drastically”.

No 10 yesterday called on the RMT union to consult members on a salary offer of 8 per cent over two years.

But RMT boss Mick Lynch – dubbed Mick Grynch for ruining Christmas – turned him down and announced another strike, from 6pm on Christmas Eve to 6am on December 27. Its members will vote on strikes due on December 13, 14, 16 and 17. They are expected to move on after he urged them to turn down the “extremely damaging” offer.

Mick Lynch leaves Parliament House

Mick Lynch leaves Parliament after failing to reach agreement on proposed strikes (Image: Zuma Press Wire)

However, the TSSA union last night called off its own December 17 strike in a bid to present Network Rail’s “best and final” offer to its members.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “It is incredibly disappointing that, despite a new and improved deal that offers job security and a fair pay rise, the RMT has not only continued forthcoming industrial action but has called further strikes over the Christmas period.

‘It is particularly disappointing given that TSSA has called this new and improved deal ‘the best we can get through negotiations’ and called off strikes.’

He said the government had played its part but the RMT had not, leading to “harmful disruption” rather than “helpful discussions” this Christmas.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/12/06/rail-firms-revealed-to-have-axed-thousands-of-trips-through-loop-holes-17883539/ Railway companies have apparently canceled thousands of trips through loopholes

Justin Scacco

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