Northern mayors call on PM to treat rail ‘chaos’ as emergency


Metro mayors have called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Mark Harper to treat the “chaos” in rail services across the north of England as an emergency and to “haul operators to the table to sort out this mess”.

West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin speaks to the media outside Leeds train station following the emergency meeting of Northern Mayors in relation to rail chaos in the North. Image: PA Wire

Mayors from West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Manchester, Liverpool and North Tyneside held an emergency meeting on Thursday afternoon in the wake of weeks of disruption which has seen hundreds of services cancelled by a number of rail operators, including TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast and Northern.

In a statement, the five mayors said: “As thousands of last-minute cancellations continue to make life miserable for people in the North, and cause serious damage to the economy, the Government remains in a state of paralysis having just appointed its third Transport Secretary in seven weeks.

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“If this level of disruption was being experienced in other parts of the country, we believe action would already have been taken to improve matters.

“We do not accept that passengers in the North should be treated in this way and just expected to put up with it. We won’t.”

They said: “So today we are calling on the Prime Minister and his Transport Secretary Mark Harper to treat this emergency with the urgency it deserves.

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“Only the Government can haul operators to the table to sort out this mess.”

West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin called Thursday’s meeting which also included the mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham; the mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram; the mayor of the North of Tyne, Jamie Driscoll; and the mayor of South Yorkshire, Oliver Coppard.

Speaking in Leeds afterwards, Ms Brabin said they wanted to “put on record that we are sick to the back teeth of the situation, the shambles that we find ourselves in.

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“This chaos has impacted on millions of people’s lives.

“It’s also derailing our economic ambitions for our region.

“This is really important given the economic chaos which was brought on by the mini-budget.”

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