YP Letters: Blame game on railway chaos goes back to privatisation

From: Stephen Waring, Chair, The Halifax & District Rail Action Group, Many Drive, Halifax.

Should the railways be renationalised?

WELL done to The Yorkshire Post and others calling for top-level action on Northern trains. Recent chaos is unprecedented following a timetable change, demonstrating systemic dysfunction.

Who is to blame? “Northern” owned by Arriva? Infrastructure operator Network Rail? The hapless Chris Grayling?

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All share responsibility. Franchising encourages big promises backed by barely- adequate resources.

So, first make the present timetable work.

Next the railway must deliver committed enhancements such as Calder Valley trains to Manchester Airport, without damaging local services.

And then we need a level of investment matching that in the South East, with electrification, yes electrification, of lines like the Calder Valley. That is why four rail user groups along the Calder Valley Line have launched the Electric Railway Charter (www.electriccharter.wordpress.com ). We still have to catch up from a history of chronic under-investment.

The present acute crisis is about planning – timetables, station operating, driver training and rosters. The main train companies across the North are Northern and TransPennine Express. Each has its own train planners and bids to Network Rail for paths. Network Rail also has a train planning team. That’s three lots of people. Would it not be better to have just one Northern railway? Just asking.

From: Roger Backhouse, Upper Poppleton, York.

AS usual, Tom Richmond has done a good forensic job on Chris Grayling’s failures as a Minister. He showed talent in opposition but failed in office (The Yorkshire Post, June 5).

The shambles on much of Northern rail is appalling but, in partial defence of Mr Grayling, the roots of these problems go back long before his time in office.

Railways once operated as unified systems. Indeed George Stephenson famously said 
“track and trains are like man and wife”.

To operate well they need one owner and managers who understand the total system.

The crazy privatisation brought in by John Major – who didn’t mention it in his autobiography – broke that link.

I don’t claim nationalisation cures all rail ills but it is better to have the unified management back that worked for railways.

Jeremy Corbyn and Andy McDonald are on to a potential vote winner here.