Northern rail companies should be run by people who use them: Yorkshire Post Letters

Rail operator Northern is being renationalised next month.
Rail operator Northern is being renationalised next month.
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From: Peter Judge, Brighouse.

I AM very pleased to see that Northern rail has, at last, been taken into public ownership (Holly Lynch, The Yorkshire Post, February 10).

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps during a visit to Leeds last month.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps during a visit to Leeds last month.

However, how will the voice of Calderdale rail users be heard? Will the company, as usual in these cases, be run by some unknown Whitehall civil servants with no democratic legitimacy, appointed by a national government Minister?

Perhaps the Government might seek the involvement of Transport for the North. “Who he?”, you might ask, as indeed I do!

So far as I can see, Transport for the North is an unelected quango (quasi-autonomous national government organisation). Perhaps the Government will be a little more far-sighted and will involve organisations such as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA)?

But even WYCA (the successor to West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority) is somewhat remote from me and thee.

Will services on the Northern network improve when the franchise returns to public controll?

Will services on the Northern network improve when the franchise returns to public controll?

It is time for such companies to be run primarily by the people that use them.

The board of directors of the replacement Northern rail company should be elected by the people in the area it covers. To facilitate this, there should be a network of local boards, elected by local people.

I would envisage a Calderdale rail board elected in this way, and similar boards across the North. I would then envisage that one representative of each of these local boards would be appointed to the company main board; and that they would form the majority of board members. I would also expect that the employees of the new Northern rail would be able to elect the remainder of the directors.

In this way, we would have genuine, democratically accountable, public ownership – not ‘nationalisation’ – of the new Northern rail on a genuinely co-operative basis.

Indeed, such a model would serve for all the other rail companies, ultimately bringing truly democratic public ownership to Britain’s railways.

From: Ralph Lennard, Leeds.

I DON’T understand all the fuss over the cost of HS2 (Tom Richmond, The Yorkshire Post, February 11).

Yes £100bn is a lot of money, but this hasn’t to be paid by the government in a single year, it will be spread over the 20-year construction period, therefore £5bn per year. This as a percentage of total government spend per year less than one per cent.