In My View by Charlotte Butterick
Northern rail services have been bad for years, but recently it’s significantly worsened – one of the main problems being driver shortages. Our northern towns and cities were once some of the best-connected areas in the country, symbolising their great industrial strength and significance.
The government has made lots of empty promises about ‘levelling up’ and ‘giving power back’ to regions. We’re yet to see this become reality. If the north is to reach its full potential, our failing rail services must vastly improve. In 2022 and when compared to other parts of the country, our northern towns and cities should be adequately connected to allow people to live, work and travel between all areas with ease.
Rail problems in the north of England are thought to be costing the region up to £400m a year. This is a transport crisis. Compounded by increased strikes across transport networks due to workers’ conditions, pensions and pay not being adequate enough to meet the rising costs of living, we’re heading towards catastrophic disruption in the north over the winter.
Thousands of people rely on public transport, but cancelled trains are sadly an everyday occurrence for so many – causing great frustration and disruption to people’s studies, jobs and livelihoods.
The chaos on the railways also disproportionately affects young people. As the cost of living rapidly increases, so does the cost of travel. Learning to drive is more expensive and difficult than ever, with waiting times for tests reaching record highs. Such restriction in being
connected is limiting young peoples’ access to so many opportunities – not least the basic ability to get to work or go to school or college.
This is something that government, mayors and local authorities must tackle together. With more strikes yet to come this winter, the government must take on the train companies for their appalling levels of service – ensuring they address driver shortages and resolve issues of staff pay fairly so that our trains can function properly.