TODAY we issue a rallying cry to the north: join us to demand what government promised us.
As part of a day of action, news titles across the region – including the West Leeds Dispatch – are starting a petition calling on ministers to come good on their northern powerhouse pledges.
We want them to end the chaos on our rail services, signing off the upgrades they promised us and redressing decades of underfunding to the region.
In Leeds, 177 services have been cancelled — with more than 400 hit by carriage reductions. Last week alone, a total of 49 trains were cancelled going through Bramley Station and, to a lesser degree, Kirkstall Forge.
Four years ago this month, then-Chancellor George Osborne promised – when unveiling his vision for a northern powerhouse – to ‘join our northern cities together’ with faster, modern transport connections.
Directly addressing the franchise eventually won by Northern Rail a year later, he said:
“We’ll want to see not just better services, and more seats at peak times, but also better journeys.”
So now that’s what we want.
Instead of launching a lengthy inquiry that will not report back until the end of the year – with information the government should already know – transport secretary Chris Grayling needs to end the chaos on our rail network NOW.
What do we want?
- We need a fair, fit-for-purpose compensation scheme put in place within days.
- And we need the rest of the northern powerhouse that government promised us too: the major transport projects – such as extra platforms at Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road – we were pledged, but which are now languishing on Mr Grayling’s desk.
- Finally, we want fair funding – not more second-class services, while London eyes up its SECOND high-speed CrossRail link.
With one voice, we say to the Prime Minister:
You promised us a northern powerhouse. It’s time you delivered it.