West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin and fellow Metro Mayors have today (Monday 17 April) written to Transport Secretary Mark Harper setting out the unanimous view of Northern leaders that the failing operator “needs to start afresh under new ownership”.

The current contract to operate TransPennine Express (TPE) ends in just over five weeks on 28th May. But there has been no indication from ministers of any action to ensure this failing service is improved.

There are fears that officials based in Whitehall will sign off on an extension, and consign passengers living across the North of England to many more years of chaos and misery.

The letter says: “Such a decision would be rewarding failure and be a betrayal of passengers in the North.”

The letter was also signed by the Mayors of Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, North of Tyne and Liverpool City Region.

The Northern leaders urge Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government to put the views of passengers in the North above any other considerations when making the decision on TPE’s future.

A joint statement issued by the Northern Mayors today (Monday 17 April) said; “We understand that a decision is imminent on the contract for TransPennine Express.

“We are concerned by suggestions that First Group may be awarded a contract extension and cannot see how this can possibly be justified given the ongoing cancellations and poor service being provided.

“We have today written to the Secretary of State, as Mayors representing millions of people across the North, to reiterate our firm view that it is time for a fresh start.

“We stand ready to work with the Government to reshape our railways and make them work better for our regions. Moving now to an Operator of Last Resort will bring forward the change on the railways that the North desperately needs.”