From: Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary.
THE franchise model has failed and Northern just happens to be the worst of a bad bunch. The Government can’t go on looking the other way armed only with sticking plasters.
I recently met Keith Williams and told him this face to face. Mr Williams has a golden opportunity to improve the lives of millions across the North by telling the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that the game is up and Northern must return to public control. Frankly that is the only way to turn this mess around and create a system which works for passengers rather than profiteers.
Ministers need to understand that our railways are key to unlocking the potential of our country far outside London.
The problems at Northern must be dealt with as a matter of priority – but Mr Shapps should now apply stress tests to other franchises.
If they are failing to provide a good daily service, as well deliver on the environmental, social and economic benefits to communities, then they must come into public control without delay.
From: James Rogers, Harrogate.
IN 1963 Dr Beeching proposed the withdrawal of the Harrogate-York passenger service...The complete closure of the line would have soon followed.
Objections to the withdrawal were received and in 1966 the then Minister of Transport, Barbara Castle, refused to sanction the withdrawal. However, she said her refusal did not mean fresh withdrawal proposals could not be brought forward in the future, and she expected British Rail to make every economy. This included reducing parts of the line to single track in the early 1970s.
Maintenance of the track was expensive but mechanisation and modern materials were bringing costs down and the days when plate-layers walked their own section of track maintaining the line mainly by hand were fast disappearing.
A real economy would have been to replace the many manned level crossings by automatic crossings or bridges, and modernise the signalling.
So why wasn’t this done? Presumably because if fresh closure proposals had been brought forward it would have been a simple matter to rip up the remaining track, and any money spent on modernisation would have been wasted. If the line had been modernised in the 1960s, the cost would have been recovered many times over by now.