THE GREEN Party in Yorkshire says it has “cautiously welcomed” the announcement by the Transport Secretary that Northern Rail is set to be stripped of its franchise.

Green peer and former Party Leader Natalie Bennett said: “Commuters in the North deserve better rail services and we welcome the news that we are finally going to ditch Northern, however, just changing who runs the train services isn’t going to solve the problems that rail users face.

“We need to rethink how train services are run, putting passengers at the heart. The government needs to accept that the private sector’s involvement in our railways has failed and what they are doing to regulate the railways has also failed.

“Our trains need to be for the public good where profits are reinvested back into the network – as happens across most of Europe.”

Last week Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Northern was to be stripped of its franchise.

As fares across Britain rose by an average of 2.7 per cent he told the PA news agency “frustrated commuters” would not have to wait long before action was taken.

Shortly before his comment Green Party campaigner and Ilkley Town Councillor Ros Brown called for a radical overhaul of rail across Yorkshire following another year of “woeful” service for rail users in Ilkley.

Cllr Brown called for a halt of the annual rail fare increases after a year of “woeful” performance by Northern - the largest rail operator serving Ilkley.

The Green Party says the most recent performance figures released by Northern show that between November 10 and December 7 last year only 40.5 per cent of its trains arrived within a minute of their scheduled time - a drop in 5 per cent from the month before.

The Green Party is also demanding that Northern step up their game and ensure rail services are adequately staffed.

Ros Brown said: “2019 has been another year of woeful performance for on our rail network and the British public deserve better.

“Not only are rail users in Ilkley left waiting for trains that are often late, but when and if they turn up they are old, falling apart and overcrowded – sometimes all three. We are increasingly being told that many services are being cancelled due to there not being enough trains or because of a lack of staff – it is pretty basic stuff.

“They have had years to recruit and train new staff. We wouldn’t tolerate shops not opening because they didn’t have enough staff to open so why do the management of the train lines think this is ok.”

Sheffield-based Natalie Bennett said “Many of our cities here in Yorkshire are some of the most congested and polluted in Western Europe and public transport needs to be part of the solution.

“When Arriva were awarded the contract to run Northern the number one objective was to ‘help the economy of the north of England thrive by offering good quality rail services for travellers across the region.’

“Nearly four years in, it is clear to anyone that uses the trains in Yorkshire that Arriva have failed at this objective. The leadership team at Northern have shown they are not able to deliver the reliable rail system that we need and if this had been happening in London something would have been done by now.”

Northern says it has faced unprecedented challenges which were “outside the direct control of Northern” such as the late delivery of major infrastructure upgrades and delays in the building and delivery of new trains.