IF CANDIDATES contesting next week’s election want any reminder about the importance of state-of-the-art railway lines, they should view the video footage of this week’s chaos at York Station.
Thousands of passengers delayed, and access to platforms restricted, when damage to overhead power cables – a recurring problem – once again brought East Coast Main Line services to a standstill.
And while Victorian infrastructure could not be blamed in this instance, the fragility of the region’s rail network – and the fact that it is already operating at capacity every day – makes transport a legitimate election issue. As such, it is disappointing that fewer than 20 out of 250 or so prospective MPs in Yorkshire are committed to the construction of both Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2.
Given how both projects are integral to improving reliability on a rail network where one damaged cable can have adverse knock-on effects for the wider region, and ensuring that more trains can operate and meet public demand, it again highlights the importance of holding the next Government to account.
The fact that Boris Johnson appointed a Northern Powerhouse Minister – Jake Berry – to sit in his Cabinet was a start and testament to the impact, and influence, of the Power Up The North campaign that is being run by The Yorkshire Post and up to 40 newspapers.
Yet it was just that – a start – and there’s still much more to do to change the mindset of London-centric politicians and civil servants, hence the importance of the Northern Powerhouse Minister taking at least 30 minutes of questions in the Commons each month and a dedicated select committee being set up to oversee policy progress in this region. Such accountability is crucial if daily disruption on rail services here is to become the exception rather than the norm.