Northern Rail Review delayed as election looms

30 June 2005

The Strategic Rail Authority’s intended review of rail services in northern England has been postponed – allegedly at the instigation of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) who feel its findings may be unpopular.

The SRA had invited consultants to tender for a review which could include the total ending of rail on the northern network. The remit was to carry out an ‘audit’ of the Northern Rail franchise with a view to cutting costs and subsidies. 

The DTI appears to have been alarmed by the reaction of the unions, Labour MPs and sustainable transport charities, with the minister reportedly ‘very unhappy’ at the prospect of a negative review. 

“We don’t want this review to be postponed – we want it halted,” said ASLEF acting General Secretary Keith Norman. “The public don’t want consultants poking round looking for excuses to worsen their rail services. They are far more interested in seeing proposals from the government to improve them.

“The interference of the DTI proves that they know rail cuts are unpopular. The sensible thing for them to do now is reverse the cuts that have been made and return railways to public control.

“One idea for raising money would be to save the small fortune the SRA intends to pay these consultants.”

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