Theresa May is coming under pressure over the rail chaos in northern England as some of the area’s largest newspapers join together to demand that she “get a grip” on the government’s response.
The news came after the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, faced calls to resign as he was questioned by MPs and announced an inquiry into the botched timetabling changes that have caused delays and cancellations for hundreds of thousands of people.
As he came under increasing pressure in the Commons, titles that collectively sell an average of more than 300,000 copies per edition said Grayling “should take accountability”, while the prime minister should “should take a personal grip of resolving the crisis”.
The 25 titles, which are owned by various groups and include the Manchester Evening News, the Liverpool Echo and the Yorkshire Post, called on May to lead an emergency summit in Downing Street this week to find a solution to the crisis, and urged a review of rail franchising.
The Yorkshire Post, and quality regional news brands across the North of the country, unite tomorrow in an historic show of unity: fed up of being let down; fed up being treated as second class; fighting for better, now! #OneNorth #tomorrowspaperstoday #Skypapers #BBCpapers pic.twitter.com/uc4fN01J3Y
June 4, 2018
Manchester News MEN
Tomorrow’s M.E.N. front page: ‘Northern Rail Chaos – Time For Change’ #tomorrowspaperstoday #onerail pic.twitter.com/P098wFUPdz
June 4, 2018
They also urged Northern Rail to clarify its plans for a compensation scheme for passengers who have been hit by crippling disruption and demanded that the trans-Pennine high-speed line be prioritised over London’s Crossrail II, as well as the devolution of more powers over transport.
“Earlier this year, Transport for the North published its 30-year transport upgrade plan for the whole region, with ministers hailing the plan as ‘revolutionary’. The events of the past few weeks have ruined the credibility of the government,” said a spokesman for the group.
“Today, our newspapers speak on behalf of our readers, rail commuters and all citizens in the north in telling the government, and the prime minister: get a grip.”
Earlier, a Downing Street spokesman had said: “We have tremendous sympathy with everyone who has had their rail journey delayed or disrupted. What we have seen has been totally unacceptable.”