UK Government Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced the decision to put the operator’s services under government control, but warned that “it is not a panacea.”

Graham Sutherland, chief executive of FirstGroup, which owns the TransPennine Express, said the company has “worked extremely hard to improve services.”

But watchdog Transport Focus said passengers have “put up with an unacceptable service for far too long”, while West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said it was “absolutely right that this is the end of the line” for what which he described as a “failed rail operator”.

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The Ministry of Transport (DfT) said that the services will come under its Operator of Last Resort from May 28.

Passengers have experienced widespread delays and cancellations over the past year.

Transportation Secretary Mark HarperTransportation Secretary Mark Harper said the measure is “not a panacea” (Lucy North/PA)

The operator, which covers an area in the north of England and in Scotland with services in Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central, it has been badly affected by drivers who are members of the Aslef union no longer volunteering to work paid overtime shifts.

The latest figures show that the TransPennine Express canceled the equivalent of one in six services for most of March.

Mr. Harper said: “In my time as Secretary for Transport, I have made it clear that the passenger experience must always come first.

“After months of Northern travelers and businesses bearing the brunt of ongoing cancellations, I have made the decision to bring TransPennine Express to Operator of Last Resort.

“This is not a silver bullet and will not instantly fix a number of challenges being faced, including Aslef’s actions preventing TransPennine Express from being able to run a full service.”

He added that the DfT has “played our role, but Aslef now needs to play his” by calling off strikes and banning rest days.

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The DfT put the operator on a recovery plan in February after meeting with local mayors to discuss the way forward.

The department said: “While some improvements have been made in recent months, it has been decided that in order to achieve the levels of performance commuters deserve, and that the north economy needs, both the contract and the underlying relationships must be re-established.

It added: “The decision to place TransPennine Express under the control of the Operator of Last Resort is temporary and it is the full intention of the Government to return it to the private sector.”

FirstGroup will continue to operate Avanti West Coast, Great Western Railway, South Western Railway, Hull Trains and Lumo.

The Operator of Last Resort already operates London North Eastern Railway, Northern and Southeastern services.

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