Cllr Judith Blake: Rail passengers deserve full story

20 June 2018

Responding to revelations by MP Lisa Nandy of emails relating to Northern rail service�disruptions, Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and Member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said today (20 June):

"The rail passengers across the North who have suffered cancellations and delays will rightly expect answers as to why the Department for Transport appeared to know about this two years ago yet failed to act to prevent the chaos seen in recent weeks.

"The emails paint a very worrying picture of how Whitehall officials view rail in the north and there are serious questions about who knew what when and how the decisions which led to the current disruption were taken.

"Although the review I am leading is still in its early stages, it is already clear that any recommendations will need to ensure there is a strong democratic and passenger voice when such decisions are taken in future.

"I am also seeking reassurance from Northern and Transport for the North that the needs of customers will be paramount as they plan the resumption of the full timetable next month."

Propagating myths

Lisa Nandy MP revealed Department for Transport (DfT) emails which discussed "propagating myths" to divert attention from route closures. During Prime Minister's Questions, she decribed the messages as a "disgrace".

The Wigan MP said the emails show how "officials describe key Northern routes as valueless, discuss classic handling strategies for members of Parliament, discuss whether to throw a sop to Northern passenger groups and debate whether to propagate myths in order to divert public attention from agreed planned route closures."