Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has written about the latest chapter in a long list of Government failures on rail in her latest Batley News column.
Once again we have seen evidence of the utter contempt that the Conservative Government has for people in the north of the country.
I refer to the explosive leaked emails my colleague Lisa Nandy MP revealed to the Prime Minister from the Department for Transport that show the Government knew of the “impending chaos” on Northern Rail services two years ago. Astounding.
And now this mayhem has well and truly come to fruition.
Dozens stand on the platform at Batley Station to watch their train depart without them after the lucky few who were close enough to the doors manage to crowbar themselves on board.
Frantic phone calls to employers, schools, nurseries and friends follow with the familiar message: “I’m going to be late, AGAIN.”
I visited Batley Station during rush hour recently to speak to members of the public and find out how they were dealing with the services since the new timetable was introduced. Unsurprisingly, they were overwhelmingly unimpressed – and that’s putting it mildly.
Mandy referred to the “extremely crowded” 16.40 from Leeds to Batley as the “worst commuting experience I have ever had”.
Dean spoke of losing hours a day with his family because of the woefully unreliable Wakefield to Batley train, while Rachel, who commutes from Batley to Leeds, told me of how she spent one journey crammed into the train toilet with six other passengers on the “primitive” service.
These are not just anecdotes, they are people’s lives.
Days before I spoke to disgruntled Batley commuters I was personally assured in a private meeting by the man who is in charge of our railways, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling, that things were already improving.
I beg to differ. It seems that no one is willing to take responsibility, and no one is being held accountable.
I have spoken out in Parliament several times on the subject, but week after week, all I get is excuse after excuse.
Last week a pitiful handful of Tory MPs turned out in the House of Commons to back the Secretary of State as the Labour Party tabled a motion of no confidence against him. But despite this, they voted en masse and he clung on.
One of his own party interjected in the debate with an unusual line of defence, saying: “Would a change in leadership actually deliver the stability required?”
No it wouldn’t, and there lies the problem.
As long as we have a Tory Government in charge who are hell bent on propping up a failing franchising system, we are not going to see real change.
We need a transport network that is run for people, not profit. We were promised an interconnected Northern Powerhouse, yet we are struggling to get from one town to the next.
*Please feel free to share you stories, experiences and concerns about our rail network with me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make sure your voice is heard.