Response to rail fares rise and future of Northern franchise

Cllr Judith Blake says, increases are galling given ongoing delays and cancellations and that Williams Review and promised White Paper give the Government opportunity to devolve the powers and funding the North so desperately needs.

2 January 2020

Responding to today's price rises, which see train fares increase by an average of 2.7% across the UK, Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Lead, said:

“Higher fares are never a good way to start the year but rail passengers will find those taking effect this month particularly galling given the ongoing delays and cancellations which are severely disrupting journeys across the North of England.

“The Government must make publication of the Williams Review and reform of the railways an urgent priority, delivering much greater local control of the regional rail network alongside increased local accountability to ensure franchise commitments and improvements for passengers are delivered.”

Commenting on the Transport Secretary’s comments on the future of the Northern franchise, Cllr Blake said: “Passengers have suffered months of failure and disruption as a result of unacceptable poor performance by rail companies across the North. Northern Leaders have long called for Government action to restore customer confidence, including on the Northern franchise.

“The Government needs to involve Northern Leaders and Transport for the North in urgent talks to get the situation back under control and to deliver the stability and improvements passengers were promised when the franchise was originally awarded.

“However, the North will not get the rail service it needs and deserves until there is significant investment in infrastructure to address the capacity crisis in the network.

“Through the Williams Review and the White Paper it has promised, the Government also has the opportunity to devolve the powers and funding the North so desperately needs.”