15 August 2014
A new report has criticised Government for failing to accept or understand the case for transformational investment in the north of England's rail services.
North of England Rail Services: Busting the Myths sets out the barriers being erected to growing the network and compares the high profile calls for investment in the north's rail capabilities with the Department for Transport's minimalist plans for rail services over the next 10 years.
Co-author of the report, Andrew Allen of Campaign for Better Transport said
"Government lacks any coherent plan to transform the north of England's railways. While the cities in 'One North' propose a transformed and growing railway, the Department for Transport are forcing fares up, and the new rail franchises could even see some services being cut. Government needs to act now and set out its vision for the new trains, decent stations and better services which towns and cities across the north need."
North of England Rail Services: Busting the Myths sets out myths which need to be overcome if rail services are to grow. This includes setting a clear plan for transformational investment and replacing outdated rolling stock. It also challenges the notion that the north's railways are heavily subsidised, that passenger numbers are growing more slowly than in other parts of the country, and that there are many lightly used stations where services should be cut.
The report concludes that although a number of good projects are planned, Government lacks a clear and coherent plan for the north’s rail network. There is also a lack of ambition in plans for the Northern Rail and TransPennine Express franchises, Government consultations on which close on 18 August.
To overcome shortcomings, the report calls on Government to deliver a plan with bold targets for growth supported by on-going investment. This needs to be at the heart of economic plans and the development of the renewed rail franchises.
1. North of England Rail Services: Busting the Myths is available from the Campaign for Better Transport website.
2. The Department for Transport is consulting on new Northern Rail and TransPennine Express franchises, due to begin in February 2016. A briefing can be downloaded from the Campaign for Better Transport website.
3. On 8 September Northern Rail will introduce evening peak fares, increasing ticket prices for many routes in and out of the main northern cities between 4.30pm and 6.30pm.