TRAIN operator Northern has come under fierce fire in Parliament for its performance on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines.

Keighley and Ilkley MP John Grogan, speaking during a Commons debate, said the firm’s performance levels over the past year had “sunk abysmally low”.

He regularly receives complaints from commuters about delays to services, cancellations and overcrowding.

Mr Grogan has now written to Northern’s German parent company, Deutsche Bahn, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the issues.

He told fellow MPs: “There are two main lines in the Keighley constituency, the Airedale and Wharfedale lines, which were electrified in 1994.

“Many people built their lives – their journeys into work and their children’s journeys to school, and so on – around those lines.

“Traditionally they have been high performing, which makes it even more frustrating for so many people that over the last year the performance levels have sunk abysmally low.”

Mr Grogan also made reference to the long-running dispute involving the RMT union and Northern, over the role of guards on trains.

Ongoing strike action is currently affecting services every Saturday.

“There was some good news when it appeared that Transport for the North – and I think, the Government – acknowledged that there would be a second person on all trains but there seems to be an issue about the detail of what that second person would do,” said Mr Grogan.

“In Scotland, a deal was done where the guard would continue to have a safety-critical role – the driver would open the doors and the guard would close them.

“There are compromises that can be reached.

“We need minsters to get the different parties together to end this strike.”

The absence of Boxing Day trains this year was raised too during the debate.

Mr Grogan said Northern was meant to run 60, as part of its franchise.

“There is demand for public transport and trains on Boxing Day,” he said.

“Some people cannot go home for Christmas from London to Yorkshire because they have to be at work on December 27 and can’t get a train back on Boxing Day.

“There are also issues of the environment and of loneliness – not everyone relishes being at home for 72 hours at a stretch, in some cases on their own.”

He praised the role of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (K&WVR) and other heritage lines, which have been operating over the festive period.

And he mentioned the success in particular of the K&WVR’s Santa Specials.

We contacted Northern to give it the opportunity to respond, but it declined to comment.