My View, John Hoare - Time to give us our share of the rail cash

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Have you heard anyone talk about transport during the general election campaign?

No?

Well, nor have I.

That doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to many of us.

So let’s see how things are going on the railways.

If you’ve been to Doncaster Station recently you will have seen that East Coast trains are now rebranded ‘Virgin’.

Many of us opposed this change. East Coast provided often excellent service and any profits came back to the nation.

But dogma triumphed and we have a private operator again.

Virgin promise a lot.

But there do not seem to be any proposed timetable changes which will make any difference to Doncaster’s services.

There is some good news however.

Doncaster has been successful in becoming one of the two centres for the new High Speed Rail Training College.

This is something that is reflecting both our rail history and current success.

When the new franchise comes in for Northern Rail, which is due to happen early in 2016, there will be a commitment to replace the ageing Pacer trains which jolt us on local services and are seen by passengers as uncomfortable and often overcrowded.

Further afield, electrification from London to Sheffield is due to be completed late in 2020.

When this is done the pressure will be on to extend it to Doncaster, while plans to restore double track at Dore and create a passing loop in the Hope Valley will improve our service to Manchester Piccadilly and the airport.

If all this sounds encouraging, visit London.

See the quality of local trains, the new services and the costly work being carried out on Crossrail.

A recent report indicated that London has £2,731 per head spent each year on public transport.

The South-East has £792 spent per head.

But in Yorkshire and the Humber it is only £201 per head.

It is time that the North got its share!

Local authorities across the north have combined in Rail North Ltd, through which they aim to influence Government and the award of new franchises and keep pressure on Network Rail for the necessary electrification and track improvements which will speed up services between our towns and cities.

Forget pre-election speeches about such fantasies as ‘the Northern Powerhouse’ and HS3 and let’s see a proper share of the cake spent on real improvements now!

* John Hoare, chairman, South Yorkshire Transport Users Group