All those passengers caught up in this scandal will be incredulous that the Rail Delivery Group and the anonymous Transport Focus watchdog have chosen today of all days to launch this consultation – they just want to plan their journeys with some confidence after the worst delays in living memory.
Yet, while the relentless rise in fares has not been commensurate with improvements to the quality of services across this region, the priority, at present, is for the whole industry to work round-the-clock before even lasting damage is done to the region’s economy.
This is why under-fire Transport Secretary Chris Grayling must, for once, front up and answer questions – in public – on the floor of the House of Commons today before he, and his deputy Jo Johnson, hold private briefings with MPs. In doing so, he needs to address three prescient points.
First, the complaint by Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, that the decision to axe 165 services a day as a short-term measure was taken with “no prior consultation, no approval nor offer of compensation”.
Next, the call by Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker of the Commons, for the Northern franchise, just like the East Coast route, to be brought back under public control.
Finally, the sensible suggestion by Henri Murison, the head of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, for Transport for the North to be given powers to oversee Network Rail and infrastructure improvements. If the Macavity-like Mr Grayling shies away, and does not set out a clear plan to improve services, his position will be even more untenable.