Local control ‘would improve railways’

HANDING over control of rail services in the North to local authorities would improve their quality and drive up passenger numbers, according to a new report.

The Campaign for Better Transport pointed to the experience of London Overground and Merseyrail on Merseyside as evidence that local control leads to better services.

According to its Going Local report, both areas enjoy high passenger satisfaction rates, more reliable and punctual services and have seen significant investment in stations and staffing .

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Yorkshire councils are among a group discussing taking over responsibility for services currently run by Northern Rail and First Transpennine.

If agreed, in future rail companies would negotiate with councils in the region rather than competing for franchises handed out by the Government.

Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “Too often local train services are the Cinderellas of the rail network – the routes in London Overground and Merseyrail certainly were.

“Control by the local transport authorities has transformed them.

“They are reliable, well-used and have some of the highest passenger satisfaction on the entire rail network.

Going Local shows that passengers and communities are the winners when rail franchises are run locally. Using this model more widely would mean Cinderellas across the country could go to the ball.”

Jonathan Bray, chief executive of the Passenger Transport Executive Group which represents public transport bodies like Metro and SYPTE, said: “Having absentee landlords of local rail networks at the Department of Transport will not give the regions the dynamic rail systems they need to support regional economies.”