Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin is keeping up the pressure on the Government over ‘failing’ train operator TransPennine Express.
Mayor Brabin (below), backed by the four other Northern Metro mayors, has demanded no second chances for the train company whose contract to run services across the North of England runs out on May 28.
The mayors, including Andy Burnham (Greater Manchester), Oliver Coppard (South Yorkshire), Jamie Driscoll (North of Tyne) and Steve Rotheram (Liverpool City Region), signed a letter to Transport Secretary Mark Harper setting out the unanimous view of Northern leaders that the failing operator “needs to start afresh under new ownership.”
There are fears that Government officials will sign off on an extension to the contract and consign passengers living across the North of England to “many more years of chaos and misery.”
The letter says: “Such a decision would be rewarding failure and be a betrayal of passengers in the North.”
The Northern leaders urge Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to put the views of passengers in the North above any other considerations when making the decision on TPE’s future.
In a joint statement the mayors said: “We understand that a decision is imminent on the contract for TransPennine Express.
“We are concerned by suggestions that First Group may be awarded a contract extension and cannot see how this can possibly be justified given the ongoing cancellations and poor service being provided.
“We have written to the Secretary of State as mayors representing millions of people across the North, to reiterate our firm view that it is time for a fresh start.
“We stand ready to work with the Government to reshape our railways and make them work better for our regions.
“Moving now to an Operator of Last Resort will bring forward the change on the railways that the North desperately needs.”
A spokesman for TPE said cancellations had reduced “by about 40%” following the introduction of a recovery plan but a Department for Transport spokesman said “all options remain on the table.”