IT goes without saying that The Yorkshire Post welcomes the national focus on the North’s transport requirements and Wednesday's special summit in Leeds – this newspaper has, for a decade, been highlighting the extent to which investment is still in skewed in favour of London and the South East and the argument for fairer funding is finally shifting in this area’s favour at long last.
It also goes without saying that this newspaper fully concurs with the final communiqué issued by political and business leaders. If Yorkshire and neighbouring regions are to make any progress, and persuade the Government to fund Crossrail for the North and long-overdue improvements to the rest of the area’s rail network, it will require a collective effort like no other. Momentum is building.
That said, the North simply doesn’t have the policy powers – or resources – to do it on its own, despite Transport Secretary Chris Grayling suggesting otherwise, and the Government, in the first instance, needs to understand, and acknowledge, the real anger that exists at present and mistrust of the Minister.
Put simply, it’s wrong for Mr Grayling to expect this region’s leaders to step up to the plate, and take full responsibility for decades of under-investment, when Transport for the North, the body set up by the Government, does not have the statutory powers enjoyed by its counterpart organisation in London. The Government can’t have it both ways – is it in favour of devolution or not?
Yes, it’s important that the next Budget includes a definite commitment to high-speed rail in the North, but passengers – the people who matter most of all – should be able to measure, at regular intervals, on the progress that is being made on day-to-day issues, like the replacement of outdated rolling stock, and big ticket projects like high-speed rail from Hull to Liverpool.
It’s unclear whether Mr Grayling’s intention was to galvanise the North, but his challenging intervention has done so. The challenge now is building on this new-found unity of purpose and making sure Yorkshire’s rail network finally compares favourably to the standard of service taken for granted in London. It’s not asking too much, is it?