Following a period of unprecedented misery for thousands of people caused by a broken railway, the regional press across the North is today making an historic united stand to demand: enough is enough.
In a week where Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blamed everyone bar himself for the chaos and confusion that has hit Northern Rail, the Wigan Post is putting years of rivalry with our publishing peers to one side for the good of our proud regions.
We say to Prime Minister Theresa May: if, as he did last week, your Minister refuses to acknowledge his failings and refuses to accept responsibility for the interminable disruption for which he – whether he likes it or not – is ultimately responsible, then you must.
The Wigan Post and our colleagues across the industry today, on behalf of the 15 million people who are proud to call the North home, table a vote of no confidence in the Transport Secretary.
Our unprecedented show of unity among titles is in direct response to the disruption suffered by hundreds of thousands of passengers since new timetables were introduced on the Northern network a fortnight ago.
With passengers bracing themselves for weeks of further delays as a result of these cack-handed changes, Mrs May, you, will be jeopardising the credibility of the Northern Powerhouse, and alienating the regions for good, if you do not intervene now.
Given its over-riding objective is to improve public transport between the North’s major cities in order to transform the future economic prospects of this region, we together urge the Prime Minister to:
Summon transport chiefs, and business leaders, to 10 Downing Street this week for an emergency summit to devise an action plan to get this region moving again;
Challenge Northern Rail to specify, in full, its promised compensation scheme for those passengers most affected by the delays and disruption;
Give Transport for the North the necessary policy and financial powers so it can have full oversight of all local, suburban and regional services and work in tandem with Network Rail. It is clear our railways cannot be cared for properly from London;
Commit the Government to a full and fundamental review of rail franchising – the Northern fiasco is yet another example of a franchisee over-promising and under-delivering;
Promise that the planned high-speed line across the Pennines - NPR - will take precedence over or equal to the Crossrail II scheme being drawn up in London.
Before the introduction of an emergency timetable yesterday which saw 165 services scrapped until the end of July, more than 2,000 trains had been cancelled – and even more subjected to long delays.
The resulting inconvenience suffered by passengers ranging from top business executives to commuters, jobseekers, students, tourists and many others has been, and remains, incalculable.
Many people, including the low-waged, have been left stranded.