This is something of a teaser requiring some railway history knowledge as well as the present day franchises: explain why thinking of the L&YR and the ner is pertinent. The capitalisation is the clue.
I placed that on my Facebook profile. This blog entry will be used to explain. L&Y stands historically for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. NER stood in history for either North Eastern Railway or British Railways North Eastern Region. Prior to 1923 the private companies were deadly rivals. This helped to ensure that the strong conurbations of Lancashire and Yorkshire were tied together which was a good thing but it also ensured the independence of North East England in railway matters. Today everything looks a bit different. I might suggest that it is quite appropriate to label the modern Northern Rail franchise the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Stand in Manchester, Liverpool or Leeds and you will see what I mean. Read up (as this blog has previously done) the investment plans for Northern. The conurbations of Lancashire and Yorkshire have triumphed through their Passenger Transport Authorities. And what of the North East. Divide and rule. One geographically small Passenger Transport Authority with only a handful of Network Rail stations but its own Metro to play with. Three weak shire counties plus the Tees Valley boroughs. No structure for a common voice in developing railway policy. And this is how the franchise to be let in 2013 for the North is being faced. A novelty for 2011 is a Tyne Wear Public Transport Users Group. Is this interested in examining the Northern franchise? Not as far as I can tell. It is more driven by the futile prospect of fighting the reletting of the East Coast franchise back into the private sector. If that francise is not relet then the whole private railway dream crumbles. Yet in effect North East England is just an island in the Northern empire. All the work of Heaton depot is isolated from other Northern operations. Setting up a North East Local Trains franchise would be relatively easy. No vast unpicking exercise. Last week the Labour Party Shadow Cabinet was on Tyneside. Did anyone mention the prospect of the new franchise. Was the question put and is anyone listening?
STOP PRESS: If the issue interests you, the Tyne Valley Line Rail Users Group is holding an open meeting 7.30pm Hexham Community Centre 17th February 2011 to discuss the new franchise.