Analysis: Government needs new rail franchises to deliver jam today

IMPROVING rail services would be a rare tangible example of the Northern Powerhouse vision delivering.

New rail franchises covering Yorkshire services have been announced today

Although Northern Powerhouse has become a label for Government press officers to slap on any announcement relating to anywhere north of Nottingham it did start out as a specific vision.

George Osborne made the case that individually the North’s towns and cities could not compete on the world stage but building better connections between them could mean together they could hold their own.

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Improving transport links is key to the vision - and no-one could argue this Government hasn’t made the right noises on improving transport in the North.

The problem for Ministers is most transport improvements are not delivered overnight, particularly when it comes to the railways.

HS2 will not arrive in Yorkshire until the 2030s. For all the talk of transpennine high speed services, HS3 has barely made it onto the drawing board. And even existing plans for upgrades in the shape of electrification to the Trans-Pennine and Midland Main lines have been delayed.

So to Yorkshire commuters rattling along in Pacer trains, the Northern Powerhouse always seems to offer jam tomorrow.

That’s why the Government needs the new rail franchises announced today to deliver tangible improvements and quickly.

Getting more and better trains to deliver more passengers on time and in comfort to their destinations on the existing network would buy Ministers time and goodwill to deliver the more complicated infrastructure improvements in the years ahead.