PEOPLE in Scotland and the North are being treated as “third-class citizens” when it comes to railway provision, according to the SNP.

The UK Government announced in the House of Commons that it was prepared to intervene if train operating company Avanti West Coast failed to deliver the required improvements to the West Coast Mainline by April 1.

The company has already been handed a six-month extension by the Government amid criticism of its treatment of staff.

It has previously relied on workers doing overtime to run its services, resulting in ongoing strike action by the RMT union.

But SNP transport spokesperson Gavin Newlands said that the UK Government was acting far too casually when it came to resolving the industrial action.

READ MORE: We bet you can't read Jacob Rees-Mogg's handwritten resignation letter

He told MPs: “Scotland and the North of England have been treated as third-class citizens.

“I doubt the laissez-faire attitude of the DfT (Department for Transport) when it comes to industrial relations at Avanti would last five minutes if home counties commuter services were being slashed in the same way.”

He added: “The six-month extension is seen by everyone as kicking the can down the road.”

Rail minister Kevin Foster said: “Every day DfT is engaging with Avanti and TransPennine about the services. Every week there are senior-level contacts as well. And ministers are actively involved as well with this process.

“So the idea that … this is something that we’re not interested in, or there’s some sort of laissez-faire attitude, is, I’m afraid, completely for the birds.”

Trains were removed from the timetable in August to cut short-notice cancellations after a sharp decline in the number of drivers voluntarily working on rest days for extra pay.

The Department for Transport said nearly 100 additional drivers will have entered formal service between April and December this year, meaning more services have started to be added as new drivers become available to work.

However, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has previously said that Avanti should never have been given an extension.

He said: "This strike is the end result of months of neglect and the only way our train managers feel they can voice their concerns.

"Avanti should never have been given any extension to their franchise contract for all the chaos they have caused the travelling public.”