Northern - Shambles of day out!

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Established Member
2 Mar 2011
We decided to take a day out by train, as we often do and opted for a trip to Southport. The journeys and experience of the parts of the trip operated by Northern were shambolic.

We joined the 1022 Manchester Piccadilly to Southport train. This broke down at Manchester Oxford Road. Nobody seemed to know what was happening and eventually, we were moved to a replacement train. This train got progressively busier and busier until we were all squashed in like sardines on a hot, Summer day. No apologies were offered. The level of service poor, the customer service nil.

The return journey was no better – in fact, far worse. The 1724 Southport to Man Airport was shown to be leaving platform 4 on time. After its scheduled departure time, the train actually arrived on platform 6 – no announcements. We moved over to platform 6, only to be told by a driver that the train would not be leaving due to a fault. Minutes later the announcer said that that train was now forming the 1724.

Everyone stood on the platform only to be told again that it was going nowhere. Our best bet was to travel on the next service to Manchester Victoria – the 1754.

It was then announced that the 1754 was cancelled and that the train would form the late Manchester Airport service. Confusion is an understatement. The driver and guard didn’t seem to know what was happening, neither did the Merseyrail station staff – they appeared not to be talking to each other, so us, the customers seemed to be abandoned.

The train did leave and was, we were told, heading to Manchester Airport….

At Manchester Oxford, the train was terminated – without prior warning! An utter shambles. We planned our next stage to get us to Piccadilly – a wait for the next service. Then some staff on the station and a driver said that the train we had just got off, was now actually going to Manchester Piccadilly. ‘I am driving it there, so I might as well take some passengers’ were the words I heard. No announcement, no information. On asking the station staff, we were told we may as well get on!

I have to say that the levels of operation, customer service and communication were very poor.

Is this pretty usual?

Now, I normally am one of the first to defend Northern - I do think they got a shower of stock and a difficult franchise to manage. However, after a shambolic experience yesterday, sadly I can see why people take a dislike to them. They seem worse in the old North West part of the francise than the North East?

They need to invest in stock (I know - out of their hands) and customer service training.

(I do actually think the best thing for Northern would be to do the same as they did with EMT from MML and Central. Split Northern and give some to West Coast and some to East Coast.)
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RailUK Forums

ATW Alex 101

Established Member
28 Dec 2010
Ellesmere port
Sorry to hear about your bad experience.
You should write a letter of complaint and hope they will do something about it. You could,alternatively ask for a suggestions form at the booking office and fill it with your complaint.


28 Dec 2011
I commute from Southport to Moorfields, on Merseyrail 4 days a week.

Every morning I have to play the game of "which platform will the train leave ?", there are only 3 platforms (1,2 or 3) and I look on the board and it says , for example, 3 so I go to Platform 3 only to be told it isnt Platform 3, as control @ Sandhills have decided to change it !.
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