When she meets Rail Minister Jo Johnson today, Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, will highlight the need for immediate action to end the chaos that has affected Northern Rail passengers.
Cllr Blake will also insist that rail passengers right across the North of England are compensated for the ongoing disruption to their travel plans.
At the meeting, Cllr Blake will stress to Mr Johnson the need for:
- The failings by operators and Network Rail, which have led to the current disruption, to be addressed as a national priority
- A clear and fair compensation plan for passengers across the North, and that holders of all tickets and cards as well as season ticket holders are included
- Transport for the North to be empowered to deal robustly with franchise-holders, including removal of franchises and other substantial sanctions if required
- Northern Rail to be encouraged to engage with Trade Unions over their ongoing disputes and driver route training
Cllr Blake said:
“My absolute immediate priority is for Government, Northern Rail and Network Rail to alleviate the chaos that has been inflicted on rail passengers across Leeds City Region and the North of England since the new timetables were introduced.
“This is the message I will deliver to them today on behalf of all Northern leaders.
“It’s time for the Government to get a grip and put their words into action. They need to force from Northern Rail a comprehensive, simple and substantial compensation plan for the North’s passengers and if necessary to administer it if Northern Rail prove incapable. Compensation months later is no good to passengers suffering disruption now.
“If the last two weeks’ confusion and dithering have shown us anything it is that we need the powers in the North to monitor train operators and if necessary to fine them when the service they should provide is lacking or to withdraw the franchise if problems persist. We cannot allow this appalling impact on the North’s economy or travelling public to happen again.
“The Secretary of State and his team say they have taken responsibility - it’s now time for action, the North has waited long enough.”