Labour politicians demand an end to ‘disparity between transport investment in the north’ and south

Support us and go ad-free

Labour politicians have demanded train operator Northern Rail compensate passengers who are forced to continue using outdated Pacer trains.

Labour MP and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Sheffield City region mayor Dan Jarvis and Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake have expressed to the company their “deep disappointment and frustration” at news that the trains will continue to be used into 2020 despite previous pledges.

The letter signed by the three leaders and sent to Northern managing director David Brown said the firm should reduce fares on routes where Pacers are being used until their replacements are brought into service.

Jarvis said the current arrangement was:

another example of rail passengers in the North being treated like second-class citizens.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

It’s unacceptable that people will have to continue to travel on these relics, which should have been consigned to a transport museum long ago.

A reduction in fares on affected routes, throughout the period that passengers have to travel on what are essentially buses on rails, is the very least that could be done.

Pacers were built using bus parts and were introduced in the early 1980s as a stop-gap solution to a lack of rolling stock.

But their use has continued and Northern has said the trains will still be used in the Sheffield city region and some other routes into 2020.

The politicians said that the continued use of Pacers:

underlines the widening disparity between transport investment in the north, compared to the south.

Blake said:

The withdrawal of Pacers was one of the centrepiece commitments made in the Northern franchise.

The fact they will still be running in 2020 is symbolic of the broader issues with this franchise which continues to deliver an unacceptable level of service to passengers.

Northern, which is owned by Germany-based Arriva, has been contacted for comment in response to the letter.

Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps took the first step towards potentially stripping Northern of its franchise.

He told MPs he has issued a “request for proposals” from the firm and the Operator of Last Resort (OLR), which could lead to services being brought into direct government control and run by the OLR.

Giving evidence to the Commons’ Transport Select Committee, he said the level of performance on the Northern network “cannot continue”.

He went on:

I entirely believe we cannot carry on just thinking it’s OK for trains not to arrive or Sunday services not being in place. That simply has to change.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us