Joint Northern Mayors statement as rail services in the North grind to a halt
As thousands of last-minute cancellations continue to make life miserable for people in the North, and cause serious damage to the economy, the Government remains in a state of paralysis having just appointed its third Transport Secretary in seven weeks.
If this level of disruption was being experienced in other parts of the country, we believe action would already have been taken to improve matters. We do not accept that passengers in the North should be treated in this way and just expected to put up with it. We won’t.
So today we are calling on the Prime Minister and his Transport Secretary Mark Harper to treat this emergency with the urgency it deserves. Only the Government can haul operators to the table to sort out this mess.
- The Transport Secretary should sign off without delay the agreement on rest day working that is on his desk. This will put more drivers on our railways within days and we can see no reason why this shouldn’t be approved immediately.
- The Government must immediately put TransPennine Express on a six-month probation period before any suggestion of the renewal of its contract in May 2023. We believe there needs to be a review of its recruitment processes and management practices. Clear performance standards must be set for the company to reach and their actual performance against them evaluated before any decision to renew.
- We need an urgent meeting with Ministers to agree a long-term plan for the future. Our transport network has been starved of support for years. This is derailing our plans for a strong Northern economy. We need to explore potential for more devolved and local control of our railways so they can be integrated into public transport systems within city-regions. If ‘levelling up’ is to be more than a slogan under the new Prime Minister, then he must give us the rail funding and powers we need to deliver.
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire
Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region