A BOSS from rail operator Northern has explained why direct train services between Barrow and Manchester Airport have been cut under new timetable changes.

Following changes to train timetables that came into effect on Monday, the number of direct trains between the two stations were cut from 11 to five.

It led Simon Fell to meet the Government’s rail minister and write to Northern bosses, saying the new changes were ‘not acceptable’ for people in Furness.

Chris Jackson, the regional director for Northern has now explained the changes, saying services were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “The timetable change from September 14 has seen an overall increase in services to and from Barrow. We now operate more than 20 trains per day in each direction.

“However, because of changes we have had to make as a result of the impact of Covid-19, some daytime services which would normally operate through to Manchester Airport are terminating or starting at Lancaster or Preston. Our peak time trains continue to offer a direct service between Barrow and Manchester.

“Customers travelling off-peak still have a wide range of options for onward to travel to Manchester with at least two trains per hour from Preston – many of which boast additional carriages.”

Mr Jackson said the impact of the pandemic had affected the operator’s ability to train ‘hundreds of drivers and train crews.

Train workers shielding has also affected the number of services that can run, he said.

“We have had to make some very tough decisions which, we understand, will have an impact on some of our customers,” Mr Jackson said.

Mr Fell had written to Northern managing director Nick Donovan and Mr Jackson to express concern over the changes.

He said: “The replacement of a quick, easy train journey which may involve changeovers of up to an hour is clearly not acceptable to the majority of passengers.

"I would urge you to reconsider this decision."