Leaders unite to call for real rail powers for the North

Some 71 business leaders and council chiefs have signed the open letter calling for the Government to invest real power in the hands of Transport for the North.
Some 71 business leaders and council chiefs have signed the open letter calling for the Government to invest real power in the hands of Transport for the North.
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Senior business and civic leaders are urging the Government to react to the rail timetables fiasco by committing to the devolution of decision-making powers over transport in the North of England.

In an open letter, 71 industry and council bosses from across the North call on the Government to hand Transport for the North (TfN) full powers to manage all northern infrastructure.

Leeds Council’s Labour leader, Coun Judith Blake warned that “enough was enough” after two weeks of unacceptable levels of cancelled and delayed trains.

The letter is also signed by leaders in North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Cumbria, Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and the North East. It warns that “anger is mounting” over disruption which has left businesses struggling and public services under strain.

The letter states: “Only by TfN being accountable for the performance of Network Rail and the train companies can the north truly take control of its own destiny. Without greater authority TfN will not be able to supervise delivery of the north’s first strategic transport plan and avoid repeats of the current fiasco.”

It asks the Government to commit to implementing TfN’s Northern Powerhouse Rail strategic outline business case in full by the time of the autumn’s budget.

Coun Blake, who is leading a review into the timetables chaos, said: “There is a huge opportunity for more power to be given to the North for hands-on oversight so that we will never, ever be in a situation like this again.”

The Department for Transport said it had been clear that passengers are encountering “totally unacceptable” service levels which must be put right as soon as possible with passengers adequately compensated, adding that Transport Secretary had ordered an inquiry to determine how the timetable changes went so badly wrong.

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