Saturday, 13 October 2012

Local Authorities Run the East Coast?

At times it seems as if any idea is worth trying. Look through here since September 2010 and you will see I am much exercised by a debate about who runs local trains in the North East (Heaton depot's work) after 2014 and how is a strong rail management team in Newcastle created. This is built on the thought that developing our network (re-opening Peterlee, Blyth and Tyne, Leamside, electrifying the Newcastle & Carlisle) all these crawl along. And that is without saying Belford or Loftus.

Things have moved on a bit this summer but in strange directions. Much of the media references I build up at Northumbria Rail Franchise Lobby Group. An illustration of what I pick up is That's the local authorities wondering if they could take over the East Coast Main Line and keep it in public hands. The only trouble there is that the City Of Edinburgh's record on its tram project is no recommendation to anything. In the north east there are now about three threads at once.Nexus in Tyne & Wear denies that trains exist and only wants an argument about running buses. The Goverment had a consultation over the summer about decentralising local trains. From York to Manchester the authorities plan to make a bid to so do. The north east if its joins that will be bottom of the heap. Another consultation started on the future refranchise of the East Coast Main Line. This opens the idea that they should take over our local services. That is not the end of the world although the Newcastle and North East area would still have to fight its corner. Then the whole franchise system is in turmoil over the Virgin fiasco. This I think leads to this story about the local authorities planning to act.

What I think is needed is an informed debate in the North East. A day's public seminar for politicians, users and the industry. It would have Nick Brown whose constituency contains the key depot to all this: Heaton. It could have Heidi Mottram now CEO of Northumbrian Water but who ran Northern Rail. She should have some ideas about what we should do and is active in the North East LEP. That and ANEC Association of North East Councils could be the hosts. Edward Twiddy where are you? I have put all this to ANEC and got a polite put down. Who thinks it will be a good idea for a new local trains franchise to come upon the North East without even a day's debate?

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