Many know about the problems with Northern Rail and its standards of service, but I would like to share with readers my story of Northern Rail trying to wrangle its way out of awarding me compensation for a resulting delay of over two-and-a-half hours even though Northern Rail was solelyresponsible for the one-and-a-half of the two-and-a-half hours delay with the first hour jointly with Merseyrail.

On Friday 26th October I caught the 17:00 rail replacement bus express from Moorfields to Ormskirk which according to timetables the 18:01 from Ormskirk to Preston was a connecting service. This was for rail upgrading on the Liverpool to Ormskirk line. Unfortunately the 18:01 from Ormskirk didn’t wait for the bus to arrive (just over five minutes late) and so this was the start of a delayed journey for me to Croston.

The details supplied by National Rail were:

Express Rail Replacement Bus: Moorfields depart 17:00, Maghull 17:35, Ormskirk arrive 17:55;

Train: Ormskirk depart 18:01, Burscough Junction 18:05, Rufford 18:11, Croston arrive 18:16.

I mentioned this to a member of staff at Ormskirk Station and he told me abruptly that they don’t have connections with buses so I said it was a rail replacement bus and should be treated like a connecting train but he looked at me in reluctance to answer me properly. He made no reference to not honouring connections with trains which is what the rail replacement bus was so didn’t answer my query properly. Are staff trained to mislead passengers when things go wrong?

The 19:01 was also cancelled as was the 20:01 but a coach was put on at 20:25 from Ormskirk which got me to Croston just before 20:50.

As a result of all of this prolonged delay (an hour I would have overlooked and gone for a pint), I put in for compensation with Northern Rail and got a reply stating that the 18:01 was not in excess of 30 minutes late at Croston so I wasn’t entitled to any compensation. I have objected to this as they have not taken all the details into account but haven’t heard anything back yet.

Firstly Northern Rail was partly responsible with Merseyrail which provided the rail replacement buses for the first delay (18:01 to 19:01) for not waiting for the rail replacement bus to connect and appear to be blaming Merseyrail. Secondly, if Northern Rail doesn’t want to take responsibility for not waiting, then I was at Ormskirk Station in good time for both the 19:01 and 20:01 which didn’t run so Northern Rail cannot use the punctuality of the 18:01 service to overshadow thesecancellations and the subsequent delays I experienced.Northern Rail seems to be passing the whole blame to Merseyrail because if the rail replacement bus had arrived on time I wouldn’t have experienced any delays and the later cancellations wouldn’t have affected me.

I was talking to a number of other passengers who were as frustrated for the two-and-a-half hour delay but don’t know if they have experienced difficulty with getting compensated for the delays they experienced too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Northern Rail has closed the doors in their faces too.

This is an example of exploitation by big businesses who try to manipulate their way out of responsibility and commitments (including banks, insurance companies, councils, DWP, etc.) by conning victims, and no doubt Northern Rail will have done something like this to manymore of its customers. It doesn’t just do it to one of its customers.

I hope that Northern Rail loses its franchise as it has provided a terrible standard of service for passengers.

I would like to see the railways renationalised as it was much better under British Rail. Since privatisation, many rail companies have failed to provide a satisfactory standard of service with prices rising disproportionately as well as putting profits before safety and standards of service. I used to travel all over the UK by train before privatisation but hardly use the trains now since every time I do I experience unacceptable delays.

Back in the spring of 1993, due to a problem caused by misleading information provided on signs by British Rail, I missed the last train from Stockport to Blackpool and had to have a taxi which cost me £55. I didn’t have a camera with me so returned the next day with one to take photos of the misleading information and put in a claim for a refund of my taxi fare with British Rail. They quickly put things right at Stockport and tried to deny my side of the story, but I had photographic evidence and took them to the Small Claims Court.  The total costs (taxi, extra train fares, postage, fees, etc.) came to £148.50 and in September 1993 British Rail made an out-of-court settlement days before the hearing was due in London to refund me the full £148.50. So even British Rail tried to wrangle its way out of what it had done wrong too.