THE verdict on the rail chaos that blighted Yorkshire by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership could not be more damning, nor make a more powerful case for devolved control over transport.
It amounts to a devastating analysis of an appalling litany of failure by both Government and rail operators that resulted in enormous cost and economic damage to our region, as well as unconscionable inconvenience to passengers.
Each individual finding of the report would be enough to demonstrate that the current system is, in its words, “not fit for purpose”. Taken together, they amount to an unanswerable argument that wholesale reform is needed as a matter of urgency.
A total cost to the regional economy of almost £38m. A million working hours lost. People losing their jobs because they could not get to work. Businesses forced to deal with staff shortages and a drastic cut in productivity. The Government failing to intervene to address the chaos.
This amounts to one of the most serious charge sheets ever brought against any Government or the rail industry since privatisation, a dismal failure of management and oversight.
Such a fiasco must never be allowed to happen again. That much is surely obvious even to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, whose shameful failure to give the rail network in the North either the powers or resources it needs is a key factor in its problems.
The Northern Powerhouse Partnership sets out an eminently sensible and achievable way forward. Devolving power to Transport for the North so that Network Rail and train operators can be held to account and problems addressed quickly is now an absolute necessity.
The Government must heed this and act accordingly. If it does not, it cannot claim to have any credibility with the long-suffering rail passengers and businesses of our region.