THE managing director of troubled train operator TransPennine Express, Leo Goodwin, has now broken his silence on the region’s rail scandal, after some prompting, in last week’s column.
He issued a half-hearted apology, which The Yorkshire Post published on Tuesday, in which he suggested that many of the problems on the main line between Leeds and Manchester were down to Network Rail and Northern.
If he thinks this evasiveness – straight from the Macavity handbook written by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling – is sufficient to get him off the hook for the time being, then he, and his PR team, should think again.
The column challenge came after commuters from Marsden and Slaithwaite contacted me about the hundreds – yes, hundreds – of trains that have been cancelled, or not reached their intended destination since timetable changes came into effect in late May.
Not only is this causing great inconvenience for travellers, but tourism in the beautiful Colne Valley is now being hit. B&B owner Jane Walker said it was easier for some guests to travel from New Mexico to Manchester than it was from the North West city to her village.
Yet did Mr Goodwin respond to this? No, he did not. Has he answered letters from residents, and campaigners, who can no longer rely upon the train? Not according to all those who continue to get in touch with this newspaper.
And what did TransPennine Express do when Mr Goodwin’s piece was published in print, and online, on Tuesday? Sarah Humphries, the media relations manager, emailed me and requested that a photo be used of one of their new trains. Is this all they care about?
So here’s another challenge after I wrote a column on Thursday calling for a series of customer service commitments to be included in all future rail franchises.
How about Mr Goodwin meeting rail campaigners in Marsden and Slaithwaite in person so he has a better understanding of their anguish and hardship?
There are two problems – Mr Goodwin’s willingness, given his track record as one of the rail industry’s faceless bureaucrats, and whether he will actually be able to get there on one of his own trains. A real public servant would readily agree. I’ll report back next week.
IF you wondered why your hospital is short of doctors and nurses, here’s one possible reason.
Leeds-based NHS Digital has paid for a national advertisement in The Guardian, the public sector bible, for a head of media and campaigns.
The successful candidate, who will be paid up to £85,333, will be responsible for interpreting (and implementing) this gobbledegook: “Provide inspiring leadership and develop professional capability and expertise, driving continuous improvement by empowering, motivating and inspiring the team to deliver creative and timely outputs/outcomes.”
I wonder which civil servant or PR consultant wrote this gibberish – and how much they’re paid. And it gets more galling. The successful person will report to the “director of communications” who, I presume, will be on even more money.
Let’s hope the successful applicant is an advocate of plain English – but I suspect their candidacy would be ineligible if they possessed this skill.
IT’S not just the NHS which is obsessed with non-jobs – West Yorkshire Combined Authority is just as culpable.
The quango, which tries to preside over transport and inward investment, is recruiting for a taxpayer-funded head of economic policy on up to £68,101 per annum.
The successful person is expected “to work” with WYCA, and the area’s Local Enterprise Partnership, “to tackle challenging problems”.
Why? Its well-remunerated managing director, Ben Still, should be an economic expert. And so, too, should every member of his staff who are – let it be remembered – also on the public sector payroll. And also the five council chief executives, and leaders, who serve West Yorkshire and come under its auspices. For, if they are not, they, too, shouldn’t be in the job.
DURING her visit to Edinburgh to launch a new £1.3bn ‘city deal’ for the Scottish capital, Theresa May hailed devolution as “a partnership” with local government to “combine resources and tackle challenges tomorrow”.
So why are her intransigent Ministers still so hostile to the One Yorkshire blueprint? She needs to have a word with Cabinet minister James Brokenshire and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry. For, if Mrs May’s remarks are taken at face value, these two are now the only people standing in the way of the biggest, and most ambitious, devolution deal of all.
THE Tories are in the process of selecting a team of Parliamentary candidates for South Yorkshire.
Evidently it’s not because a general election is looming, but they want to put aspiring MPs through their paces before activists have the final say on selection.
I’m intrigued that Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham all feature. Does the party think it has a better chance here than in the West Yorkshire seats which have been worst hit by the region’s rail chaos?
JOHN Hunt’s swimming commentaries from the European Championships have been spine-tingling listening on the radio. What a contrast with Adrian Moorhouse and Andy Jamieson on television who don’t have the words to do justice to the sport.
One 200m race saw the unnecessary prefix ‘absolutely’ used six times. And why does every medallist finish “like a train”? Superstar swimmer Adam Peaty probably swims faster than some rail services travel here.