THE opportunity offered by the Prime Minister for this region to have greater control over its rail network is one that should be grabbed with both hands and acted on without delay.
Chaos on the railways over recent weeks has underlined the need for regional decision-making over an essential component in the wider transport network that needs to function efficiently if our economy is to prosper.
Yesterday’s announcement by Downing Street that Theresa May would consider a bid by Transport for the North for greater powers is a certain indication that the Government acknowledges things have to change following the timetabling fiasco on Northern Rail that left passengers facing nightmarish journeys.
Mrs May has put the ball firmly in the court of this region to improve services, and the onus is now on TfN to come up with a comprehensive set of proposals which emulate the wide powers enjoyed by Transport for London, which has control over the capital’s rail.
This is, potentially, a golden opportunity for the region to exercise an entirely new level of control over rail services, reshaping them to meet the needs of commuters and businesses, and crucially, introducing a joined-up approach to their management that ends buck-passing over problems.
Greater control is exactly what business and civic leaders have asked for. Now it appears that the door has been opened towards that happening.
This holds out the prospect of a new start for the railways, and for their long-suffering passengers it cannot come soon enough.