Manchester and Bradford leaders appointed to integral northern rail body

Andy Burnham

Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, has been appointed new chair of The Rail North Committee (RNC).

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford Council, has also been elected majority group vice chair.

The Rail North Committee advises the Transport for the North Board on rail services and infrastructure improvements and all matters relating to rail franchise and contract management in the Rail North area.

As chair, Mr Burnham will oversee the strategic direction of the committee, with the support of vice chairs from the majority and minority groups on the board.

The minority group chair has not been decided yet.

Andy Burnham, who has been a vociferous critic of substandard services offered by the likes of Northern Rail, Transpennine Express and Avanti West Coast, said: “It is a great honour to be asked by mayors and leaders from both sides of the Pennines to become the new chair of the Rail North Committee at a crucial time for our railways.

“With both of our main operators under public control, there is a real opportunity to reshape the North’s railways and give long-suffering passengers here a more reliable service. That means holding the operators to account and making the case for the infrastructure the North desperately needs.

“As chair, I will not compromise on the North’s call for a railway that is as least as good as the service in other parts of the country, but I will work constructively with the rail industry and with the Government to achieve it.”

He added: “Finally, I wish to thank my predecessor Cllr Liam Robinson for his excellent leadership of the committee during some tough years for railways in the North and laying the foundations for change.”

Cllr Hinchcliffe said: “It’s a privilege to have been appointed as a vice chair to the Rail North Committee. And I welcome the appointment of mayor Burnham as chair. Communities in the North of England want, and deserve, reliable and punctual train services.

“The current poor level of service is not acceptable, and it’s undermining businesses and holding back economic growth. I look forward to working with our stakeholders and partners in my new role as we work towards the transformation required to meet the understandable and increasing public expectations for the delivery of improved, reliable, inclusive, effective and functioning rail services.”

Lord McLoughlin, chair of Transport for the North, said: “These are crucial leadership roles for our region, and I am more than confident that they will rise to the challenge. Their extensive background in leadership will support the Rail North Committee in performing its duties.

“And I know I speak for all TfN board members in looking forward to working with them in taking the RNC agenda forwards. We are grateful to Cllr Liam Robinson for all his hard work in his time as chair. His leadership was steady and supportive throughout a challenging period.”