Transport Secretary must take charge

The unsurprising conclusion of the recently published interim report into the #RailFail chaos that hit many constituents this summer is that ‘nobody took charge’ even when it became clear that passengers were going to be badly let down by the shambolic introduction of a new timetable.Rail report cover

Of course, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling should have been in charge, but he has blamed Network Rail, rail operators and the rail regulator. The truth is that the rail industry has become fragmented, riven by commercial rivalries and is now competing over who should take the blame.

Even this weekend, with the Giants in town and people travelling from across the country to Liverpool, Northern could not run a full service.

We need a railway that serves the people who use it to get to work, visit friends and family and for leisure. Business needs a railway with the capacity to move more goods efficiently around the country.

That will only be achieved when the industry comes together to plan much needed investment in the outdated infrastructure and offer passengers a new deal, including proper compensation for the disruption over the summer.

It’s time that the government to properly solve the immediate chaos and then devolve powers to the region to get our trains back on the rails.

I echo the calls made by City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson for powers to implement a Northern Powerhouse solution that will see a twin-track rail link built from Liverpool to Manchester, linking into HS2, as well as a new station in Liverpool city centre.

That will increase passenger and freight capacity to support businesses across the region.

More immediately, we need Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to do his job and take charge of our fragmented industry. Ordering yet another review is not taking charge, it’s just dodging responsibility for the continuing chaos on our railways.