NORTHERN Rail has been praised for its handling of last year’s timetable disaster.

The firm was hailed by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) for its response to the national crisis, which saw passengers face weeks of disruption and chaos across the tracks after the timetable change last May.

While Northern and other rail operators came in for heavy criticism, the ORR said Investigators credited Northern’s response to the chaos and said providing advanced information for all passengers at the time was “an impossible task”.

While this is no consolation to the thousands of passengers affected by the disruption, other rail firms have been hit with millions of pounds in fines for their handling of the crisis.

The problem affecting passengers into and out of Bolton was compounded by the overrunning electrification works, and the ongoing dispute with staff over plans to remove guards from trains.

While it was bad news being delivered to passengers, the fact that Northern was accurate and timely in getting out the information was highlighted.

Latest figures suggest Northern is back on track and has nearly halved the number of trains cancelled or more than 30 minutes late between February 4 and March 3 of this year, from 5.3 per cent to 2.7 per cent.

This is encouraging as Northern is modernising its fleet with bigger, more efficient trains.