Passengers frustrated by Merseyrail services being delayed or cancelled could be given their money back.
In January last year, passengers on the Kirkby line became the first on the region’s rail network to commute on the new £500m publicly owned trains. During this initial roll out, services were reduced from four an hour, to one every half hour.
However, some users have been irritated by frequent issues emerging on the line. In a bid to “recognise the patience and understanding” shown by passengers, they could be in for a refund as the Metro Mayor admitted services had “fallen short of standard”.
As services are upped to three per hour, those who bought a weekly, monthly, term-time or annual ticket, in 2023 at Fazakerley, Kirkby or Headbolt Lane stations will receive a letter with information about how to claim their money back in full.
Further announcements are planned to recognise non-Railpass holders whose journeys have been affected and more details will be provided as soon as possible.
In October, the new £80m station at Headbolt Lane in Kirkby opened to passengers for the first time. A month later, the Mayor met with train manufacturer Stadler and made clear, in no uncertain terms, his dissatisfaction with the disruption to services and demanded sustainable improvements, while urging train operator Merseyrail to do everything possible to minimise disruption.
Merseyrail hopes to restore a full 15-minute timetable to the line as soon as possible.
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said, “It’s been a transformational 12 months for our local rail network. From launching the country’s first publicly owned trains in a generation to opening the new £80m Headbolt Lane station – we are creating a brighter, better connected future for our region’s railways.
“However, being a pioneer hasn’t come without its challenges. We anticipated that we would encounter some teething issues and disruption during the delivery of our new station and trains, but I’ll be the first to say that services on the Kirkby line have fallen short of the standards that our passengers deserve.
“While I cannot undo the disruption that passengers have already faced, I hope this gesture demonstrates our appreciation for their patience and understanding. I want to reassure passengers that we are working around the clock to overcome these challenges and we are already seeing sustainable improvements.
“It is my belief that these issues will soon be behind us and passengers will be able to enjoy decades of reliable service from one of the most sophisticated and accessible fleets in the country.”