Northern rail delusions
According to the publicity for today’s Bauer ‘National Rail Conference’ – titled “The North: Leading The Way” – a world class rail service has been promised to the north of England.
Opening the conference, at a hotel in Manchester, Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne reportedly claimed that “Britain runs on rails”.
But to what extent does Britain – and the north of England – really ‘run on rail’?
Government data suggests that Great Britain, as a whole, could not realistically be said to run on rail. And in the north of England, due to a number of factors, use of rail is below the national average. In cities like Sheffield and Hull, local rail’s market share is close to zero, and there is no likelihood of that changing.
In other parts of the north, such as West Yorkshire, there would be the possibility of significantly increasing the use of local rail, but there are many obstacles. One of the issues is that trains just do not run anything like often enough, to be of much use.
Sadly, solutions to such problems are very unlikely to emerge from today’s conference in Manchester. Its focus seems to be on vanity projects, such as ‘HS3’.