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Mark Casci: The North has shown its collective strength on rail crisis

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The North really showed its collective strength this past few days.

The misery inflicted upon passengers following the disastrous roll-out of the new timetables on our railways has taken a heavy toll, with each day bringing new stories of people missing hospital appointments, arriving late for work and generally suffering considerable disruption to their lives.

The services operated by Northern have born the brunt of the disorder, with the embattled operator having to bring in an emergency timetable while it gets to grips with the problem.

However problematic this has been for Northern the fact remains that much of this debacle has not been of its making.

It was handed a raw deal from Network Rail in terms of the planning and given insufficient time in order to prepare for the new timetable. Just this week its boss David Brown told me that his company was organising driver rotas as late as the evening before the new timetable was rolled out.

If ever there was proof that the way our railways are managed was not fit for purpose then this fiasco was it.

Newspapers across the north west united to say, 'Enough is enough', after weeks of rail chaos

Newspapers across the north west united to say, 'Enough is enough', after weeks of rail chaos

Within days this newspaper, along with more than 20 other titles from across the North issued a collective message to Whitehall that enough is enough.

Similarly devolved city region mayors, council leaders and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership of business leaders were straight on the front foot, explaining clearly that until the North is handed control of its own fortunes this problem will never go away.

This was not a moan for extra funding or attention. It was a clear message that we are ready, willing and able as a geographic region to take control of this situation.

With the correct leadership at regional level and the infrastructure investment to match we can provide a huge economic boon to UK plc and deliver the much-promised and under-realised pledge to rebalance the economy away from the South East.

Newspapers across the north west united to say, 'Enough is enough', after weeks of rail chaos

Newspapers across the north west united to say, 'Enough is enough', after weeks of rail chaos

Embattled Transport Secretary, still seemingly oblivious to the colossal disparity in the quality of service between the North and South, once complacently remarked that the solutions for North’s transport woes had to come from the North itself.

All fine, except you can’t expect us to put this situation right without handing us the control, mandate and requisite funding this remains an abdication of duty.

Transport for the North is headed by capable and knowledgeable people. The fact that Northern politicians, business leaders and the media took such a well-informed stance in this most crucial of issues shows that the region is well-equipped and well-versed enough to take charge of its affairs.

We are a vital part of the UK’s future. Sectors such as technology, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, artificial intelligence and green energy are all areas which are going to grow at a rate of knots and are all areas in which we excel.

Mayor Dan Jarvis

Mayor Dan Jarvis

Myself and colleagues at The Yorkshire Post have long advocated the need for devolution in this region.

However the fact that the entire region was able to speak so well, and with one voice, on the basic right to get around, a most crucial of economic and social rights, shows that we have the leadership here to do the job.

It will be of no comfort at all to the individuals and businesses whose lives are being impacted upon by the ongoing rail chaos.

But we have set a template in motion this past few days showcasing how much stronger we are when we work as a collective, rather than a series of warring tribes.

It’s a model that is better suited to medieval times. Looking at a city or town 20 miles away and insisting that their needs are so different from your own simply doesn’t wash in the modern world.

During the Industrial Revolution the North was an industrial powerhouse which helped build and clothe the world. We might not be able to do that again but we can play a pivotal role if we work together and get the backing we need nationally.

David Brown, managing director of Northern, pictured at Zaragoza

David Brown, managing director of Northern, pictured at Zaragoza

Besides, I hear there may some big hotel construction opportunities in North Korea.

It would be shame to miss out.

Theresa May's comments have piled pressure on Chris Grayling.

Theresa May's comments have piled pressure on Chris Grayling.