Government ‘lacks coherent plan for rail services in the north’

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A new report has claimed the Government ‘lacks any coherent plan’ for improving rail services in the north of England.

The Campaign for Better Transport says the Department for Transport has only ‘minimalist plans’ for the region’s rail services over the next decade.

It comes as a consultation on the Northern and Trans-Pennine rail franchises, due to come under new ownership from 2016, ends today.

Co-author of the report, Andrew Allen of Campaign for Better Transport said: “The Government lacks any coherent plan to transform the north of England’s railways. While the cities in ‘One North’ propose a transformed and growing railway, the Department for Transport are forcing fares up, and the new rail franchises could even see some services being cut. 
Government needs to act now and set out its vision for the new trains, decent stations and better services which towns and cities across the north need.”

The report is calling for ongoing investment in services, with outdated trains replaced.

The RMT is also campaigning against some of the proposals contained in the public consultation on the two franchises. It claims the Government’s plans will result in higher ticket prices for passengers and job cuts for staff.

Last week, Northern Rail announced it will be scrapping off-peak early afternoon fares in a bid to reduce its Government subsidy – a move critics have claimed is a ‘a taste of what’s to come’ under the new franchises.

But the DfT has previously said the Government plans to ‘transform’ rail travel across the north over the next five years with £1 billion worth of investment.

Chancellor George Osborne has also backed proposals laid out in the recent ‘One North’ report for the creation of a new high-speed rail line - dubbed HS3 – that would connect Sheffield more quickly to other major northern cities such as Manchester and Leeds.