Metro Mayor admits Merseyrail needs to win back passenger trust

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has admitted Merseyrail needs to win back passenger trust as refunds are being handed out to commuters hit with delays and cancellations last year.

It was confirmed earlier this week after 12 months of delays and cancellations, commuters who bought Railpass tickets for the Merseyrail network at Headbolt Lane, Kirkby or Fazakerley stations would be refunded.

This month marks a year since the class 777 fleet entered service after a lengthy wait, with passengers on the Kirkby line the first to step on board.

Letters have now been arriving to passengers explaining how to claim their refund, with Metro Mayor Mr Rotheram pledging the network’s performance will improve.

During the initial roll out of the new trains, services were reduced from four an hour, to one every half hour between Kirkby and Fazakerley. This was exacerbated further by the opening of the £80m Headbolt Lane station in October, with commuters reporting delays and unexpected cancellations.

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 have now begun to receive letters with information about how to claim their money back in full. In the document, seen by the LDRS, Mr Rotheram said the impact of delays had not been lost on him.

He wrote, “As with the introduction of any major new technology, we anticipated that we would encounter some teething issues and disruption during the delivery of our new station and trains.

“We have been working around the clock to overcome a lot of these hurdles – but I’ll be the first to say that services on the Headbolt Lane line have fallen short of the standards that our passengers deserve.

“I’m aware that you’ve experienced significant delays, uncertainty, and cancellations for a prolonged period and it’s not lost on me that these can have impacts on lives and livelihoods. You deserve to have a public transport network that you can rely on – and I know that we need to rebuild your trust in the network.

“I also want to assure you that the Combined Authority, together with Merseyrail, are working hard to improve services and get our network back to the standard we all expect.

“I have met with Stadler, who built and maintain the trains and have made clear, in no uncertain terms, my dissatisfaction with the issues we have experienced and have demanded sustainable improvements.

“While things have improved in the recent period, there is still much to do and we will be continuing to maintain progress.”

Further announcements are planned to recognise non-Railpass holders whose journeys have been affected and more details will be provided as soon as possible.

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