Gov­ern­ment must ad­dress fail­ure of Tran­sPen­nine ser­vices

Yorkshire Post - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

From: Henri Muri­son, THIS week’s damn­ing re­port from the Trans­port Select Com­mit­tee De­cem­ber 4 and 5) re­flects the misery and chaos suf­fered by rail pas­sen­gers in the North­ern Powerhouse this year; chaos that is far from over.

Oper­a­tor North­ern ran a com­pletely un­ac­cept­able ser­vice dur­ing the height of the cri­sis, and al­though they moved swiftly to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion, sig­nif­i­cant is­sues with delays and can­cel­la­tions still per­sist.

But Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press are a fran­chise in fail­ure and there is a strong case for ro­bust ac­tion. This ac­tion should be by North­ern lead­ers, as they should control the fran­chises in the North, but the Gov­ern­ment has re­fused to al­low that to hap­pen – there­fore it is on them to ad­dress trans-Pen­nine ser­vices.

At Manch­ester Air­port, the per­for­mance of Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press ser­vices has dropped by around 30 per cent when com­pared to last year and, in the worst case, one in ev­ery four trains to the air­port has been can­celled. This is hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on peo­ple in all parts of the North be­ing able to ac­cess its pri­mary in­ter­na­tional gate­way and on the re­gion’s rep­u­ta­tion with over­seas vis­i­tors and in­vestors.

Whether it be fam­i­lies go­ing on hol­i­day, com­muters or be­mused busi­ness trav­ellers, we have watched in dis­may as peo­ple are thrown off trains be­fore their end des­ti­na­tion, of­ten at short no­tice, as they carry heavy bags and are wor­ried about miss­ing their flights.

It is de­plorable and the Gov­ern­ment must in­ter­vene to en­sure it does not con­tinue. The ev­i­dence to the Com­mit­tee from Trans­port Fo­cus makes it clear Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press has evaded the lime­light dur­ing the fiasco dur­ing the sum­mer – now they must be held to ac­count.

The call to keep fare rises for the com­ing year to a min­i­mum, with a dis­count for those re­new­ing their sea­son tick­ets in 2019 to mean no price in­crease, is a sen­si­ble sug­ges­tion by the Trans­port Select Com­mit­tee.

We are dis­ap­pointed at the lack of fo­cus on the op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove the way rail­ways are run in the North us­ing our de­volved in­sti­tu­tion of Trans­port for the North, in­clud­ing the need for Rail North to come with equiv­a­lent in­fra­struc­ture over­sight pow­ers, which is why the forth­com­ing Blake Re­view is of such im­por­tance.

It will ad­dress the con­cerns of many busi­nesses and pas­sen­gers who, as our

re­port has shown, paid the price for what was al­lowed to hap­pen in the sum­mer.

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