The 15.57 from the North is calling … for urgent action from Downing Street
NORTHERN newsrooms have this afternoon urged readers to join their cross-Pennine campaign for better rail services.
Last night, titles across the North united in an unprecedented show of anger at the way the Government is failing Northern rail commuters.
Since Northern Rail, the North’s local services operator, introduced a new timetable two weeks ago, thousands of services have had to be cancelled at short-notice, with hundreds more reduced in length, causing commuter chaos.
The combined effect has been tens of thousands of people struggling to commute to work, widespread chaos at train stations and, as of this week, an emergency timetable which has left some lines with no services at all for the next fortnight.
At 3.57pm today, just ahead of rush hour and when rail operators tend to stick their peak-time prices up for commuters who might not even have a service to go home on tonight, the titles all urged readers to sign a petition backing their call for action.
Titles including the Yorkshire Post, Manchester Evening News, Northern Echo, Bradford Telegraph & Argus, The Lancashire Telegraph, The Bolton News, Liverpool Echo, Sheffield Star, Blackpool Gazette, Newcastle Chronicle and Newcastle Journal joined up to make a series of demands of prime minister Theresa May and under-siege transport secretary Chris Grayling.
The titles want the PM 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;
- Announce a special compensation scheme for those 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; it is clear our railways cannot be cared for properly from London;
- 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;
- Demonstrate a commitment to fair transport funding for the North, with a pledge that the planned high-speed line across the Pennines — NPR — is an equal priority to Crossrail II in London.
The campaign has already had an impact, pushing the Northern Rail fiasco up the national news agenda, with journalists from the titles involved being interviews on TV and radio today.
MPs with constituencies in the North have also thrown their weight behind the campaign.
This morning, journalists from across the North liveblogged Northern rail services to show what commuters are up against — the hashtag on Twitter was #onenorth.