THE WEST YORKSHIRE POSITION ON CALL-INS AND
In 1997 rail service performance in terms of
cancellations deteriorated alarmingly as a result of Northern
spirit (called Regional Railways North East at that time) not
having enough drivers to operate the services timetable at all
In both periods three and five the level of
total cancellations across the franchise as a whole exceeded the
call in thresholds of 2.5 per cent for total service cancellations
and 3.5 per cent for all cancellations (total service and past
service cancellations). It is pertinent that three call ins in
three years means that the franchisee is in breach.
In West Yorkshire the figures were much worse;
in the two periods there were 4.2 per cent and 3.5 per cent total
cancellations and 4.5 per cent and 4.1 per cent all cancellations.
In two individual weeks total service cancellations exceeded five
per cent. Under the franchise agreement the penalties only apply
to the franchise as a whole and not to individual areas or groups
Northern Spirit claimed that the poor performance
should not be deemed to be call ins. In its view force majeure
applied because they considered that the cancellations occurred
because of a concerted action among some drivers not to turn up
for work on particular days and claim sickness.
The PTEs involved considered that force majeure
should not apply for several specific reasons which have been
conveyed to OPRAF. This issue has yet to be resolved and further
discussions are currently taking place.
This year Northern Spirit appear to be minimising
cancellations (currently in West Yorkshire around one per cent
to 50 trains per week) at the expense of punctuality and the lengths
of trains as the latter do not directly lead to call ins. However
they can be just as damaging to passengers.