Mayors call for TransPennine to be stripped of its franchise

Tracy Brabin fronting the Mayors call

Northern Metro Mayors have today called for TransPennine Express to be stripped of its franchise following train cancellations that “failing rail services” are “damaging the quality of life” of the people of the North.

On a shared platform at the Convention of the North in Manchester today Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham led the demand for TPE to join Northern Railway under public control. “I’ve been urged by Transport for Greater to Manchester to give them until the end of the month, but with 18,000 services cancelled – and two thirds of them not on the day – we’re at that point where we have to say enough is enough.”

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin added: “TransPennine Express is not fit for purpose.” She also said the Mayors have written to Transport Secretary Mark Harper on the poor performance of TPE but “he hasn’t replied to us”.

The Mayors statement followed a speech from Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove at the convention where he hinted that the bidding process for Levelling Up funds would be reviewed and streamlined for the next round. Gove used the speech – in which he overran his time slot and had to be interrupted by host Evan Davis – to restate the intellectual case for levelling up in the 2022 White Paper, and committed to the 12 national missions to raise living standards. Gove also used the speech to heavily praise Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who was not present, and said the London Docklands was the best example of the kind of levelling up he envisaged.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City region said: “We could all agree with vast tracts of Michael Gove’s speech, but we could improve the lives of the people of the North with devolution, especially on transport and skills.” He said the apprenticeship levy has seen millions siphoned away from the North to fund masters degrees.

South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said he welcomed Gove’s words, but said: “We have been held back time and again by a government that doesn’t understand the challenges we face.”

Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig pointed out that her council has faced a £40bn reduction in spending capacity since 2010, “which is why we are in the mess we are”.

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