NOT for the first time, Chris Grayling stands accused by Yorkshire MPs of having ‘a tin ear’ when it comes to the unacceptable state of the North’s railways after Wakefield’s Mary Creagh suggested that it would be quicker to cycle from her constituency to Scarborough than rely upon the trains.
Yet, judging by the Transport Secretary’s unacceptable responses, many readers of The Yorkshire Post will want to give Mr Grayling a thick ear after he was unable to offer any reassurances about when rail timetables can be expected to return to normal – and whether this will be before the above-inflation New Year fare increases.
After all, it is now six months since the May timetable changes that led to unprecedented disruption on services run by Northern and TransPennine Express. Even now, passengers from Scarborough on the coast to the Pennine communities of Slaithwaite and Marsden are enduring so much inconvenience on a daily basis while certain rush-hour services from Doncaster to Leeds are more likely to be cancelled than run.
This is not good enough. Every delayed – or cancelled – train is another blow to the economy, the Northern Powerhouse and the Government’s reputation in a region which is paying a very heavy price for decades of under-investment in the region. And when Tory MPs like Robert Goodwill join the criticism, Mr Grayling should really start listening to his critics – and actually put the fare increase on hold as a gesture of goodwill – rather than trying to rival failing operators when it comes to inadequate and inaccurate excuses.