"UNACCEPTABLE failures" should see a rail company stripped of their Cumbrian franchise, MPs have claimed during a debate in Parliament yesterday (20).

Troubled Northern services were put under the microscope by a trio of Cumbrian MPs, who slammed the firm after weeks of delays and disruption for commuters.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, who led the debate in Westminster Hall, said passenger woes had "undermined" confidence in the network.

He said: "This calamity could not have come at a worst time, during the Easter holidays, through the May half term, and are hitting the local economy during the early summer season, with fears the substandard or none-existing provisions could stretch into the summer holidays themselves.

"This is beyond unsatisfactory and is completely unacceptable. Not only have they failed to do their job, but they have completely undermined public confidence in this stretch of railway."

Mr Farron also highlighted the "utter failure" of the company on the Furness Line and the Cumbrian Coast line, although accepted the cancellation of the electrification project in the county had left Northern with no option but to use old trains which their drivers were not qualified to run.

He said: "This has been a disaster from day one. The removal of good services from Transpennine to be replaced with substandard stock and service from Northern.

"They have clearly breached the terms of their contract. They are contracted to run trains and they have clearly failed to do so.

"We have been left questioning the government's commitment to the far north west.

"It appears the government is prepared to take a franchise off a rail company if shareholders are losing money, but when passengers are stranded and forced to miss work and school, they look the other way.

"We have seen the lack of coordination and can-do spirit in some parts of the government and rail industry. I have never seen so much buck-passing and excuse making as I have in the last few days."

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock also backed the calls during the debate yesterday (20).

He said: "Surely there is a case that Northern have broken the terms of their contract, both across their network and in Cumbria.

"Since Northern took over, the passenger numbers on the Cumbrian Coast line have shown a frightening drop, at a time when we are trying to build a world-class nuclear corridor.

"At the same time we have seen a 500 per cent increase in cancellations on the Furness line.

"These lines are absolutely vital."

Workington MP Sue Hayman joined the pair in the debate and highlighted cancellations on the Cumbrian coast line.

She said: "There are also concerns about staffing levels at Northern and that they are short of crew to cover the new timetable.

"The Northern control centres are so overstretched that the Cumbrian routes seem to have fallen right to the bottom of their priorities.

"In Workington, trains are cancelled daily over the last month, including the last train of the day, which runs the risk of leaving people stranded miles away from home with no idea of how to get back.

"This situation is simply unsustainable and Northern are badly letting down thousands of people on a daily basis."

The Department for Transport's Rail minister Jo Johnson responded to the criticism during the debate, vowing efforts were being made to alleviate the problems.

He said: "It is the department's overriding priority to restore the reliability of the service across the network and we have left Northern under no illusion as to why we are in this position.

"Passengers have been experiencing unacceptable disruption and there is a very long way to go until performance reaches what anyone would regard as a reasonable level.

"Northern are working hard to keep people on the move as with the tourist season reaching its busiest time."

Earlier this week, Northern managing director David Brown appeared before MPs at the Commons' Transport Select Committee, where he vowed the firm were working hard to improve services.

Following the continued cancellation of the Lakes Line, The Mail said enough is enough, and agreed to campaign for change to spare thousands of Cumbrians from continued rail chaos.

Backed by local MPs, we have called for Northern to be stripped of its Cumbrian franchise.