Reaction to Northern franchise take-back

Responding to the announcement that Arriva will hand back control of the Northern Rail franchise to the government, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said: “Business communities across the North want an end to the unacceptable levels of disruption and delay they’re currently facing.  Renationalisation of Northern Rail, or indeed any other franchise, only offers a temporary solution. Only substantial investment in our aging rail infrastructure can create the reliable, day-to-day services firms need to thrive. “Ministers need to push ahead with upgrade plans on key lines across the North, deliver HS2 in full without further prevarication, and gear up to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail. If ‘levelling up’ is their priority, the Government needs to give the green light to big and small projects across the railway network.” Sandy Needham, CEO, West & North Yorkshire Chamber, said:  “The fate of Northern Rail may feel to many like an end to years of pain and frustration, however we must remember that you can only run trains on tracks and timetables provided by Network Rail and the DFT.  What has become clear over the last few years is the total lack of accountability within our rail network; no one appears able to take ownership and deal with the problems commuters face on a daily basis. We would hope that these issues around lack of responsibility and accountability are reflected in the Williams review recommendations.”  Paul Cherpeau, Chief Executive, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce said: “Businesses won’t celebrate the nationalisation of Northern Rail – they just want a reliable service. It will be challenging for any alternative can perform better without the fundamental franchise reform and transformative investment northern railways desperately need. The government must be confident that what comes next is a leap forward in services, reliability and quality.” Chris Fletcher, Policy and Marketing Director, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce said: “Our railways offers huge solutions to unlocking economic growth and benefits, but government has to commit to it unequivocally, and follow up with action to deliver. If it is serious about its ambitions for the north, the government must commit to infrastructure investment around the Piccadilly and Oxford Road pinch point, plans for which have sat on a desk in DfT for five years. The PM must also deliver HS2 in full and get on with Northern Powerhouse Rail.” Mariane O’Sullivan, Policy Adviser, North East England Chamber of Commerce, said: “We acknowledge there have been reliability problems with Northern. These have been mainly down to decades of lack of investment in infrastructure. Any improvements to this service will need substantial investment from the Government not just a change in the franchising agreement.”

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