THE MESSAGE from Cabinet ministers Grant Shapps and Jake Berry was clear following their joint visit to The Yorkshire Post – no rail operator will ever again get away with the poor performance that has blighted the North’s network for so long.
There will be a decision by the end of this month on the future management of the Northern franchise as it becomes financially unviable while TransPennine Express and other bosses faces a ‘no coffee’ meeting with the Transport Secretary over their abysmal reliability.
And while passengers will be frustrated that they have had to wait so long for decisive action, and how the Northern intervention appears pre-empted by financial rather than performance considerations, there was an acceptable that the status quo is unsustainable.
They know that they have to fight to retain the trust of those voters who put their faith in the Tories for the first time at last month’s election – and appear ready and willing to be judged by their actions.
But what was striking, however, was the passion with which both men – Mr Berry is the Northern Powerhouse Minister – spoke about this region and the game-changing opportunities that exist here if the right devolution, leadership and transport apparatus is in place.
And it was also encouraging to hear how they are working together in Cabinet to ensure that the North is at the centre of the Government’s agenda as newly-elected MPs start lobbying for long-overdue investment.
As such, it is imperative that the imminent termination of the Northern franchise, its Pacer trains symbolising decades of under-investment in this region, is the catalyst for the longer-term changes now envisaged by Ministers. They have the powers and vision. They must now deliver for the 15 million people who live and work in the North.