In a week where the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blamed everyone bar himself for the chaos and confusion that has hit Northern Rail, Hull Live is putting years of rivalry with our publishing peers to one side for the good of our proud regions.
We say to Prime Minister Theresa May that she must now accept responsibility for the interminable disruption, and lead the Government’s response, after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said ‘sorry’ for the first time as he ordered Network Rail, and the train operators, to ‘fix’ the crisis.
Our unprecedented show of unity by more than 20 titles is in direct response to the disruption suffered by hundreds of thousands of passengers since new timetables were introduced on the Northern network a fortnight ago.
With passengers bracing themselves for weeks of further delays as a result of these cack-handed changes, Mrs May, you will be jeopardising the credibility of the Northern Powerhouse, and alienating the regions for good, if you do not intervene now.
Given its over-riding objective is to improve public transport between the North’s major cities in order to transform the future economic prospects of this region, we together urge the Prime Minister to:
- summon transport chiefs, and business leaders, to 10 Downing Street this week for an emergency summit to devise an action plan to get this region moving again;
- challenge Northern Rail to specify, in full, its promised compensation scheme for those passengers most affected by the delays and disruption;
- give Transport for the North the necessary policy and financial powers so it can have full oversight of all local, suburban and regional services and work in tandem with Network Rail. It is clear our railways cannot be cared for properly from London;
- commit the Government to a full and fundamental review of rail franchising – the Northern fiasco is yet another example of a franchisee over-promising and under-delivering;
- promise that the planned high-speed line across the Pennines - NPR - will take precedence over or equal to the Crossrail II scheme being drawn up in London.
Unlike London and the South East, this region’s transport infrastructure has been under-funded by successive governments and the North simply cannot sit and wait for the completion of HS2 and better links to and from London.
Do you think action needs to happen to fix the rail services?
If we are to make a greater contribution to the prosperity of the whole country, we need a transport network fit for the 21st century with improved east-west connections and the North’s great cities linked by the quantity and quality of services being introduced on London’s state-of-the-art Crossrail line.
This needs to be Mrs May’s number one transport policy – Chris Grayling’s promises are, frankly, worthless because he's so bereft of credibility across the region – and she needs to take affirmative action now before the North’s economy is put at unnecessary risk.
Rest assured, Hull Live along with other media in the North, will not ease up until it is satisfied with the answers provided by Mrs May and her Government’s level of commitment to the North.
What do you think of our railway system in the North? Let us know in the comments below.
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