Northern Rail ‘chaos’ costs economy £38m, says analysis

31 Jul 18

Northern Rail “chaos” has cost businesses in the North £38m so far, a report has claimed.

Analysis by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, released yesterday, showed that timetable changes in May cost up to £1.3m a day at the height of the disruption.

The think-tank claimed that passengers lost up to one million hours on Northern Rail trains alone, according to data recorded between May 20 and 30 June 2018.

To prevent problems on this scale occurring again, the NPP’s report recommended that the government devolve “far more power and authority to Transport for the North, allowing them to hold Network Rail and the train operators to account and act decisively to prevent disruption”.

Henri Murison, NPP director and co-author of the report, said: “The six weeks of utter chaos on the North’s railways cause misery and havoc for my fellow commuters and families.

“The bottom line is that this must never happen again. Our report makes it clear that devolving powers of oversight to Transport for the North is an urgent and non-negotiable priority.”

TfN is England’s first sub-national transport body, which brings together the North’s nineteen local transport authorities and business leaders alongside Network Rail, Highways England and HS2 Ltd.

George Osborne, who chairs the NPP, added to calls for further devolution of rail duties.

He said: “This is the very role we envisaged Transport for the North doing when we set them up; Northern leaders will support them in making sure the people of the Northern Powerhouse get the modern, connected network they deserve.”

The report, Devolving our Railways, also suggested that TfN should take control of the £3bn Trans Pennine Route Upgrade and be responsible for all Northern transport spending.

A Department for Transport spokesperson called the disruptions “unacceptable”.

They added: “An independent inquiry has been launched to establish what went wrong and to ensure this does not happen again.”

The department has set up a compensation scheme for TfN passengers but said that the first step towards devolution to TfN is for Northern leaders to come together and pool their fare income into a single central body.

The NPP aims to increase the contribution of the North of England to the UK economy.

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