Fi­nally, MPs rail against sham­bles on the trains

Yorkshire Post - - OPINION -

AT LAST a Tory MP from Yorkshire who is stand­ing up to the Gov­ern­ment over the sham­bles on the re­gion’s rail­ways.

I re­fer to Thirsk and Mal­ton MP Kevin Hollinrake who led a Par­lia­men­tary de­bate this week on the scan­dalous state of the Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press fran­chise over the sum­mer.

Hav­ing been pre­vi­ously crit­i­cal of the re­gion’s politi­cians for fail­ing to hold Min­is­ters to ac­count, it would be re­miss not to ac­knowl­edge this in­ter­ven­tion – or its sig­nif­i­cance.

Not­ing how Yorkshire’s crick­et­ing faith­ful try­ing to get to Scar­bor­ough were re­cently turned back at Mal­ton, he pointed out that “in this day and age peo­ple are en­ti­tled to ex­pect a re­li­able ser­vice” – hear, hear – be­fore high­light­ing the scale of the dis­rup­tion.

“To put the sit­u­a­tion in con­text, over a three-month pe­riod in the sum­mer of 2017 in my con­stituency, six trains were can­celled at Mal­ton,” dis­closed Mr Hollinrake, backed up by his Scar­bor­ough coun­ter­part Robert Good­will.

“This year, over the same pe­riod, 56 trains were can­celled. Dur­ing that pe­riod in 2017, 110 trains be­tween Leeds and Scar­bor­ough were more than nine min­utes late. This year, there were more than four times as many – a to­tal of 479 de­layed trains.”

Truly shock­ing fig­ures which will also come as no surprise to all those peo­ple in­con­ve­nienced by late, or can­celled, trains be­tween Leeds and Manch­ester, I agree with Mr Hollinrake, one of the Par­lia­men­tary lead­ers of the North­ern Pow­er­house Part­ner­ship, when he calls for “a far more col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach be­tween Net­work Rail and the op­er­a­tors”. into ser­vice on the East Coast Main Line are in­com­pat­i­ble with the route’s track and sig­nalling north of York – and will have to travel at a re­duced speed.

I don’t. I call it in­com­pe­tence. Though the pro­cure­ment process long pre­ceded the re­cent col­lapse of the Vir­gin / Stage­coach fran­chise, it’s an­other rea­son why the coun­try needs a Trans­port Sec­re­tary who is ca­pa­ble of show­ing lead­er­ship, bang­ing heads to­gether and ac­cept­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity. Ev­ery­thing that Mr Grayling doesn’t do.

Mean­while An­drew Haines, the new chief ex­ec­u­tive of Net­work Rail, says the job is one of the worst in the coun­try and that he’s “only as good as the last train”. No sir, you’re only as good as the next train...

IF EX­TRA trains, and rolling stock, can be found to take pas­sen­gers to Dundee this week­end to mark the open­ing of the ac­claimed V&A mu­seum, why can’t this hap­pen in Yorkshire when there are ma­jor sport­ing or cul­tural events?

WHAT IS the point of a Min­is­te­rial Code on stan­dards if can’t ac­tu­ally be up­held?

It has emerged that Boris John­son, the former For­eign Sec­re­tary, did not fol­low due process be­fore re­sum­ing his lu­cra­tive

col­umn. The Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on Business Ap­point­ments (Acoba) – which vets ap­point­ments by ex-min­is­ters and se­nior of­fi­cials – was only in­formed by Mr John­son of his new role two weeks af­ter it had been an­nounced by the news­pa­per.

It is headed by Baroness An­gela Brown­ing who says the cur­rent non­statu­tory sys­tem only works “if it is deal­ing with peo­ple of hon­our” – ouch – and mis­cre­ants should “be de­barred or have some penalty from hold­ing pub­lic of­fice for a lim­ited amount of time – prob­a­bly two years would be a good idea”.

That’s an­other se­nior Par­lia­men­tar­ian who, I pre­sume, won’t be vot­ing for Mr John­son in any Tory lead­er­ship con­test.

TALK­ING OF Boris John­son, he was pic­tured with both hands off the steer­ing wheel of his car as he raised both thumbs to pho­tog­ra­phers out­side the coun­try cot­tage where he has re­treated fol­low­ing his mar­riage break-up. Per­haps Am­ber Rudd had a point dur­ing the Brexit ref­er­en­dum when she said Mr John­son isn’t “the man you want driv­ing you home at the end of the evening”.

IF THE Tory Brexit plot­ters can’t agree on how to top­ple Theresa May, how can they be trusted with run­ning the coun­try? This week’s photo of Boris John­son, David Davis and Ja­cob Rees-Mogg, each with their head in their hands, said it all.

AF­TER A cur­sory three days last week fol­low­ing the elon­gated sum­mer break, the House of Com­mons did up its game and sit for four days this week. Now it’s ad­journed un­til Oc­to­ber 8 to take ac­count of the party con­fer­ences, start­ing with the Lib Dems who have just 12 MPs.

Why? It’s long been the case that such po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ings should take place over long week­ends – cut back on the booze and late-night schmooz­ing if nec­es­sary – so Par­lia­ment can get on with try­ing to im­prove this coun­try’s gov­er­nance.

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