Council leaders call for more local say in how railways are run in North East England

7 May 2019

Council leaders in North East England are demanding to be given a greater say in running local train services in a Government review of the national rail industry.

Cllr Martin Gannon, chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and leader of Gateshead Council, today said there was a strong case for local bodies to be given a much greater role in planning and overseeing commuter routes into key towns and cities.

The JTC’s response to the Government’s Williams Review into rail comes as both passenger group the Campaign for Better Transport and train operators supported major changes to bring the management of local services much closer to the communities they serve.

Cllr Gannon said: “Commuter routes into our town and city centres will work better for passengers and business if locally-accountable bodies have a greater say in how commuter services and planned and delivered.

“This will mean we can as a region better integrate tickets and information with bus and Metro, improve stations and trains and build a service local people and local businesses will have confidence meets their needs.

“North East England has a self-contained local passenger rail network within the Northern franchise, and we have decades of experience running commuter services in the form of the Tyne and Wear Metro.  We are very well placed to deliver a better deal for passengers through more locally-focussed specification and management of local rail services.

“The unique geography of North East England means it is vital for the railway to contribute towards the achievement of our economic and social objectives, rather than to work against them as often seems to be the case at the moment.”

Cllr Gannon has today sent a formal response to the William Review on behalf of the Joint Transport Committee, setting out the case in for North East England to gain a greater say in detail.

The Williams Review was launched by the Government in September 2018 as a ‘root-and-branch’ examination of the UK’s railway industry and has been consulting widely across the rail industry and passenger groups to map a way forward.  Its final report is expected later this year.