Helen Pidd

Helen Pidd

North of England editor, the Guardian. My DMs are open. Contact me in confidence or via helen.pidd@theguardian.com

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Apparently the transport secretary @Mark_J_Harper  is actually coming to Manchester today to talk to @TracyBrabin  @AndyBurnhamGM  @MetroMayorSteve  @MayorJD  @olivercoppard . This shambles has surely got to be on the agenda. 60 missing trains on @TPExpressTrains  today.

I've decided to still risk the train, in the hope that the lawyers/judge in the trial I'm covering are also relying on the railways, & that the defendant's prison van gets caught in the M6 traffic (which snarls up particularly when the trains are bad). It shouldn't be like this!

If you discount the 6 brief weeks of Anne-Marie Trevelyan's reign this year there hasn't been a transport secretary with a northern constituency since Ruth Kelly in 2007. I'd love to know how often @Mark_J_Harper  (Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire) has travelled in the north.

A mere 38 @TPExpressTrains  preemptive cancellations announced late last night that won’t count in their official cancellation stats.

@Daibhead1  @LouHaighL  @TPExpressTrainsegal  loophole. These so called P-code cancellations were introduced to allow train companies to warn passengers of unavoidable cancellations - like after a landslide or a big storm when power lines are down - but some train companies use them when they are short staffed.

Can someone who understands British railways better than me explain why Avanti and Transpennine seem to have a worse driver shortage than other train operators? You'd have thought it was an industry-wide problem, but do they have different contracts? Or worse pay?

Anyone else noticed a resurgence in people sleeping in tents? This is on Preston high street today. There’s a man camping regularly in a field near my house in Stockport too.

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I'd have put all of this to the transport secretary @Mark_J_Harper  if he'd turned up in Manchester yesterday

Last night @TPExpressTrains  cancelled 44 services today, in full or in part. But because of an "outrageous" loophole, these pre-emptive cancellations won't count in official stats. What a swizz

If you wondered why official rail statistics don’t seem to reflect the lamentable reality…. @TPExpressTrains  uses ‘outrageous’ loophole in which services cancelled a day ahead do not appear in their cancellation figures

I’m writing about northern trains - again! - today so please do share with me your latest horror stories if you are happy to feature. It’ll be like group therapy.