A RAILWAY operator has come under fire for cancelling services to train drivers days after launching a £500m new fleet of trains.

While passengers have complained Transpennine Express changes had left them stranded at stations or being unable to get to work on time, North Yorkshire County Council leaders said the firm’s service had been “lacking for some time”, but in recent weeks it had “provided a very poor service”.

Among the passengers who have been most affected by cancelled journeys are those travelling on the York to Scarborough line, but there are also mounting complaints about planned changes to the firm’s Newcastle to York service.

Passengers said on just one Scarborough to York service last week three of the hourly services in succession had been cancelled.

Meanwhile, timetable changes from December 19 will see the Newcastle to York service cut out stops at Durham for several morning commuter services and cut its 8.01am service, which has been popular with commuters travelling to places such as Darlington and Northallerton.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, a board member of Transport for the North, which was formed by 20 councils last year to make the case for strategic transport improvements across the North of England, said he had been “very disappointment” by the performance of TransPennine Express.

Cllr Mackenzie said while TransPennine Express had “promised wonderful things” and had a responsible role in running services across the region the many residents and schoolchildren had been let down by the firm.

He said: “There are concerns about the franchise and TransPennine Express will be held to account by Transport for the North.”

A spokeswoman for the firm said passengers were experiencing short-term pain, but there would be a long-term gain.

She said: “Unfortunately, we have had to cancel a number of our services recently and we are truly sorry for the inconvenience that this has caused.

“We are currently running a temporary accelerated training programme for our drivers and conductors as we roll out our new fleet. This coupled with a high number of infrastructure issues that we have been experiencing has led to a high number of cancellations.

“We acknowledge the pain that this is causing our customers and we really do apologise.”

The firm launched a new 44-train fleet for services running from stations including Newcastle, Edinburgh, Liverpool Scarborough and Middlesbrough on November 22.

Leo Goodwin, the firm’s managing director, outlined the benefit the new fleet would bring to the north. He said: “The name Nova reflects the positive changes that will truly transform rail travel for our customers, with an enhancement to customers experience on board and an increase in capacity of 80 per cent on all routes.

“Our vision at TPE is to take the north further and these new trains offer more seats, improved connectivity and a higher standard of comfort.”