The ability of private franchises to provide a good quality service has yet again been called into question with the introduction of a new rail timetable which has reduced services and has caused major disruptions across the north of England.
I have raised my concerns directly with Chris Grayling MP, the Transport Secretary, and in my role as the Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, I have held meetings and discussions with Transport for the North, Northern Rail and Network Rail to resolve this crisis.
I was pleased to see that the Transport Secretary took the decision to temporarily bring East Coast Mainline back into public ownership. Those services will now be run under the new franchise of ‘London-North Eastern Railway’ (LNER).
Although this was a welcome move, it is clear that this is only intended to be a temporary expedient. Instead, we should be moving to a situation of long-term public ownership of our railways and running rail in the interests of the public, not private profit. The next Labour Government will buy rail franchises as they expire and build a sustainable and publicly-owned rail network.