People across vast swathes of northern England and parts of Scotland have been told to avoid rail travel on Wednesday.

Operator TransPennine Express (TPE) issued a “do not travel” alert because a software problem is causing severe disruption.

It expects to cancel around a third of the 325 services planned for Wednesday.

The issue was caused by an overnight fault affecting rostering software designed to ensure workers and trains are in the correct location at the right time to run services.

READ MORE: ScotRail urges rail users to plan ahead during Christmas strike action

TPE said it does not know when the problem will be resolved, and disruption is expected to continue for the rest of the week.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham wrote on Twitter: “This can’t carry on. The Government needs to step in – now.”

TPE passengers have suffered from delays and cancellations for several months.

The FirstGroup-owned company has previously blamed a combination of problems, such as high levels of train crew sickness and a training backlog.

It has also been hit by workers not volunteering to do paid overtime on rest days, and infrastructure faults.

TPE customer service and operations director Kathryn O’Brien said: “Due to a significant rostering system issue, today we are experiencing a high level of unplanned cancellations and disruption across our network.

“We know this will have a significant impact on customers travelling with us today and sincerely apologise for any disruption caused.

“We are working hard internally and with our system provider to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

“We are doing all we can to keep customers on the move but while problems persist, we advise customers not to travel and to seek alternative means of transport.”

TPE workers who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport and Aslef unions are repeatedly striking in long-running disputes.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus, told the Commons’ Transport Select Committee earlier this month “the industrial relations issues have been very corrosive and have clearly undermined (TPE’s) ability to provide a reliable service”.