Transport companies have been told to have clear plans for phasing out old fashioned trains from Yorkshire or risk having their bids to run the region’s local rails services rejected by an incoming Labour Government.
Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh told The Yorkshire Post the Government had been too “soft” on the issue so far and when the formal invitation goes out to companies in December to bid to operate the northern rail franchise from 2016, it should require them to have plans to remove pacer trains.
“I don’t think anybody wants to see pacer trains continuing on northern rail. We have to have more trains, we have to have better trains but Tory incompetence is going to leave the next Government with a difficult legacy.
“We know that we have a rolling stock crisis in the North. On Transpennine Express we’ve got 18 train carriages due to transfer to Chiltern Railways next year in a move that is a direct result of these franchise extensions.
“Overcrowded train serviecs will lose carriages next April and its just not good enough for the North. We need to be investing in quality, in quantity and capacity to enable the rail network in the North of England to service our many regional and city economies.”
According to the Government’s timetable, new contracts for the transpennine and northern franchises are not due to be awarded until October next year by which time Labour could be in office.
Ms Creagh said: “I will leave bidders in no doubt that we do not want to see pacers in the North of England, their retirement is long overdue.”
Asked if bidders should be mindful that there could be a change of Government next year, Ms Creagh said: “Absolutely, they should certainly bear that in mind.”
The Wakefield MP also revealed that she is working with Shadow Local Government Secretary and Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn on how to more powers over rail could be devolved from London to Yorkshire.
“Civil servants and the Minister in Whitehall do not necessarily know how to design rail services on our areas,” she said.