I WAS planning a trip into Liverpool on Friday for an appointment just off the city centre.

Generally speaking when I’ve got to go into Liverpool or Manchester, these days I prefer to take the train – I’m trying to manage my carbon footprint (and avoid paying extortionate parking charges).

I’ve had to do similar trips over recent months with little or no trouble – no more than the inconvenience of hanging around on a draughty platform for 20 or 30 minutes.

So I put my journey details into The Trainline website – Warrington Central to Liverpool Lime Street – aiming to arrive at around 9am on a normal working day.

Then I got my results.

To be honest, I thought they must have moved Liverpool to somewhere south of Birmingham.

Surely that couldn’t have been right – almost 90 minutes and two changes from Warrington.

So I did my internet search all over again.

And got the same result. A colleague then put me in the picture.

Liverpool Lime Street is undergoing ‘transformation work’ which is scheduled to last for eight weeks and started on Saturday.

The station won’t be completely closed but many trains will start and terminate at Liverpool South Parkway.

This means for my proposed journey I will need to either catch a Merseyrail service into the city centre or maybe there will be a rail replacement bus.

That explains the stupidly long journey time and the two changes.

Rail passengers are also having to to deal with the utter shambles that is the Northern Rail revised train timetable.

On Friday I was listening to the news on my radio (ironically while I was stuck in a lunch time traffic jam in the town centre) and was somewhat shocked to hear the Northern had cancelled 300 (yep, 300) trains that day.

It’s not acceptable. There are no normal operational circumstances that can justify this level of chaos that has been foisted on passengers.

I’ve heard all the excuses.

This is what Northern Rail had to say: “In order to make space on the network for the thousands of extra services, the timing of all GTR and most Northern services had to be changed. All of these new journeys needed to be individually approved by Network Rail to ensure the national rail network runs safely and smoothly. Unfortunately, as a result of the sheer number of changes required and the late running of some engineering improvements, the process took longer than anticipated, approvals for service changes were delayed and some timetable requests were changed.

“This meant train companies had much less time to prepare for the new timetable.

“The differences between the timetables submitted and those approved created a requirement for training that had not been anticipated.

“This meant that the necessary specialist training was not able to be completed in time for drivers to learn new routes.”

I’ll accept that. What it doesn’t explain is if the train companies knew in advance they didn’t have enough trained drivers and hadn’t had enough time to prepare, why did they go ahead with the changes?

Interestingly, Northern has come up with a novel solution to the problem of having to cancel trains...cancelling trains.

The company announced on Friday it is cutting six per cent of daily train services (165 trains) until the end of July.

That sounds to me very much like an admission of defeat on the part of Northern.

I’m inclined to agree with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. He said: “This fragmented, privatised rail system simply isn’t capable of providing a decent service to the public and the case for renationalisation has been well made.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself.