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New charter demands Government address the North-South rail divide

05 August 2014
A range of business groups and campaigners are urging the Government to redress significant disparities in transport between the north and south of England by investing in better quality, higher capacity and better connected rail services.

The Right Track North Charter (2), part of a campaign spearheaded by Campaign for Better Transport, is supported by organisations including the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, ASLEF union and Tyne Valley Line Rail User Group and responds to the Government’s consultation on the future of the Trans-Pennine and Northern rail franchises that are coming up for tender. The Charter sets out principles that the franchises must address, including:

  • replacing the 30 year old diesel  trains with ones that are more comfortable, reliable and accessible
  • a major programme of upgrades to stations
  • faster, more regular and more reliable services, including programmes to increase capacity, cut journey times and tackle overcrowding
  • better connections to the rest of the transport network, including smartcards and links to buses, trams and cycles

James MacColl, Head of Campaigns, Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Northern cities deserve decent rail connections. Too many people are stuck with old trains, slow services and stations with poor facilities. The Right Track North Charter shows how investment can tackle these problems, connecting communities, supporting the economy, and giving people choice in how they travel.”

Campaigners are concerned that the current Government consultation emphasizes cost cutting and fares increases rather than investment to increase revenue. (3)

James went on: “Passenger numbers are growing, with stations like Huddersfield serving more than twice as many passengers as they did a decade ago. (4) Developing the rail network in the north of England is vital for supporting economic growth, helping local communities and catering for the needs of the millions of passengers who are increasingly relying on trains to access jobs and services. The renewal of these franchises must therefore be used as an opportunity to support and expand the network, and provide the quality of service that people deserve. Unless action is taken to boost the ambition for railways in the north of England before the Invitation to Tender for the new franchises is published in December, people will be stuck with overcrowded trains, slow journeys, poor connections and some stations that are barely more than a platform.”

Right Track North campaigners are encouraging responses to the Government’s consultation, which is open until 18 August 2014. (5)

ENDS

For further information please contact Chloë Darlington at Campaign for Better Transport, on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or chloe.darlington@bettertransport.org.uk.

Notes to Editors

(1) Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).

(2) The Right Track North charter is at www.bettertransport.org.uk/right-track-north-charter.

(3) The Department for Transport’s pre-qualification documentation for the TransPennine Express and Northern Rail franchise competitions: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transpennine-express-and-northern-franchises-2014-ojeu-notice.

(4) pteg (Passenger Transport Executive Group) report Economic Value of Rail in the North of England: http://www.pteg.net/resources/types/reports/economic-value-rail-north-england.

(5) Government consultation on the franchises: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-northern-and-transpennine-express-rail-franchises. The consultation asks questions such as “What are your views on increasing below-average fares over time to levels typical on the rest of the network in order to improve the frequency, capacity and quality of local services? Do you have any evidence to support your views?” and “What are your views on giving priority to improving the quality of the Northern rolling stock at the expense of some reduction in lightly used services (e.g. fewer calls at low-use stations)? Do you have any evidence to support your views?”

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