During the conversation with Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram made four clear calls for immediate action.
THIS phone call was welcome but took too long in coming. Northern passengers have endured months of misery and it should not have taken this long to secure a response from the Government.
What today’s discussion revealed is that there is still considerable distance between the Government’s view of this situation and ours.
During the conversation we made four clear calls for immediate action:
- First, that there needs to be a shared and agreed analysis of the causes of the problem developed quickly between Northern, Transport for the North (TfN) partners and the Department for Transport (DfT). This does not exist at the moment. Talk by government ministers of “teething problems” suggests that these are only recent problems linked to the new timetable, when in fact Northern passengers have faced disruption over a much longer period of time. Any solution needs to address the endemic staffing shortage in order to avoid any repeat.
- Second, that Northern’s Action Plan must be published and must include clear dates and milestones for when passengers can expect to see an improvement so Northern can properly be held to account. The travelling public need to be given certainty about what services will be running and when.
- Third, that there needs to be an agreed and urgent deadline for when the significant backlog of outstanding Delay Repay claims will be dealt with, along with the introduction of a broader compensation offer for regular users given the scale of the disruption, paid for by fines levied at Arriva Rail North.
- Finally, that if Northern fails to adhere to the agreed Action Plan, that a process be initiated to remove Arriva Rail North’s franchise to operate.
Although there remains significant disagreement between us and the Secretary of State on the cause of these problems and on where responsibility lies, all parties agreed that the priority is getting services back on track in the short-term.
Chaos on the North’s rail network has been so extreme and so prolonged that as a company Northern have lost the benefit of the doubt. They simply cannot be permitted to keep inflicting a miserable sub-standard service on the hundreds of thousands of passengers across our region who have had to endure dire train travel for far too long.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region