YVETTE COOPER: The north is being let down by transport

20th April 2011'Normanton Train Station'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE
20th April 2011'Normanton Train Station'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

The trains are a mess, Northern Rail’s timetable change was a joke, and northern towns and cities are being let down.

People across Yorkshire have been hit by delays and cancellations in the chaos over Network Rails new timetable in the last few weeks, making them late for work or school. It could easily have been even worse, as they tried to get away with cutting trains from the Five Towns.

Newspaper: Express Series.'Story: New College, Pontefract, holds a Question Time style debate with students and politicians on whether Britain should leave the European Union.'Pictured: Yvette Cooper MP during her speech.'Reporter: Don Mort.'Photographer: Andrew Bellis.'Photo date: 13/05/16'Picture Ref: AB190h0516

Newspaper: Express Series.'Story: New College, Pontefract, holds a Question Time style debate with students and politicians on whether Britain should leave the European Union.'Pictured: Yvette Cooper MP during her speech.'Reporter: Don Mort.'Photographer: Andrew Bellis.'Photo date: 13/05/16'Picture Ref: AB190h0516

For some time we’ve been arguing that we need more trains across our area - for example between Knottingley, Pontefract and Leeds, and more trains from Normanton too - especially when so many Five Towns residents need to travel for work.

We also need to get rid of the horrid 1980’s pacer trains which are cold and overcrowded. Northern Rail has promised that it will be replacing them, but it has already taken far too long and we need to keep up the pressure so that we don’t get left until last.

Northern Rail also told local councillors that they were looking at putting more trains on to the Five Towns. But when the timetable plans came out they included cuts for Normanton instead.

They actually tried to cancel one of the busiest morning trains from Normanton into Leeds at 7.33am, leaving a long gap between services, which would have been a nightmare for commuters.

I contacted Northern Rail to demand that the train was reinstated and that they listen to local Normanton people and campaigners who rely on the trains.

For now, Northern Rail has backed down but will be looking again at the ‘options’ in December. This just isn’t good enough. I’m calling for more trains not less right across the Five Towns.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has tried to blame Northern Rail and Network Rail. But it is his Department of Transport that is responsible for this dysfunctional, fragmented railway system where everyone just blames each other, prices go up and services go down.

Across the country ticket prices have gone up by a third in recent years, even though local trains have become more dilapidated and crowded.

The East Coast franchise has collapsed for the third time in a decade since the Tories insisted on privatising it again - even though it made a profit when it was publicly owned. It is the government that insists on putting most of the transport investment into cities rather than towns where new investment is needed most. We need an overhaul of Britain’s transport system to get our towns a better transport deal.

On another note, I’d like to say congratulations to all the councillors elected and re-elected throughout Wakefield. Local councils work really hard across the country. In the 100th anniversary year of the first women getting the vote, this election shows Wakefield has come a long way in women’s representation too. Twenty years ago, Wakefield was in the bottom five per cent of councils in the country for women’s representation as so few councillors were women. Now we have equal numbers representing our area - leading the way for Parliament to follow too.