FOLLOWING a period of unprecedented misery and upset for thousands of people, caused by a broken railway, the regional Press across the North of England is today making an historic united stand to demand: enough is enough.
A week after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blamed everyone bar himself for the chaos and confusion that hit Northern Rail, the YEP is putting years of rivalry with our publishing peers to one side for the good of Leeds and our region. 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 show of unity by dozens of titles and websites titles is in response to the disruption suffered by hundreds of thousands of passengers since new timetables were introduced on the Northern network a fortnight ago. Given the Government’s 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 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;
* 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.
Leeds, the North, businesses and rail passengers themselves, deserve better than this shambles.