Rishi Sunak denounces the “unacceptable deterioration” of the northern railways

The Prime Minister has denounced the “unacceptable deterioration” in the north of England rail services, before a meeting between the mayors of the region and the Secretary of Transport aimed at ending the “chaos”.

Rishi Sunak has slammed Avanti West Coast as he comes under pressure on his serve from his own benches in the Commons. The Labor mayors of West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Manchester, Liverpool and North Tyneside will urge Mark Harper to improve the situation later on Wednesday.

Thousands of trains have been canceled in the North of England at short notice in recent weeks, with TransPennine Express, Avanti and Northern all affected. In the Commons, former Tory minister Esther McVey said the journey time from her constituency to London had doubled, adding: ‘You would be very lucky if you had a direct train.

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She asked how the government would deal with Avanti’s “completely unacceptable” service. Mr Sunak acknowledged that there had been an “unacceptable deterioration in the quality of Avanti’s service”.

He said: “The Transportation The secretary rightly monitors them and holds them accountable. There are plans to increase the number of trains, to over 100 additional drivers, and restore full direct service between Manchester and London. He added that the plan required “union cooperation”.

Speaking ahead of the meeting with Mr Harper in Manchester, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said: ‘Enough is enough. The Transport Secretary has promised to get this crisis under control and we welcome that.

“But northerners need more than warm words. We need a concrete plan that will get our rail network back on track.

“This chaos is having a devastating impact on the economy of the North and our attempts to rebuild after the pandemic, as we try to support our communities against the Cost of life crisis with record levels of inflation. The Secretary of State is the person who can step in and has a new opportunity to help solve the problem and that is exactly what we are going to tell him today.

The meeting will also feature Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham; Liverpool City Area Mayor Steve Rothera; the Mayor of North Tyne, Jamie Driscoll; and South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard.

Much of the disruption is caused by railway workers no longer volunteering to work shifts on their days off, amid an industrial relations crisis in the sector. The mayors will be calling on Mr. Harper to do all he can to get the rail companies and unions to work out a deal on rest days.

They also want TransPennine Express to be put on “six months probation” to boost its performance before its contract is renewed in May 2023.


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