The Rail North Committee (RNC) has made an important announcement today, revealing the appointment of new leadership. Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has been elected as the new Chair of the committee, while Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, will serve as the majority group Vice Chair. The RNC plays a pivotal role in advising the Transport for the North Board on various aspects of rail services and infrastructure improvements within the Rail North area, including matters related to rail franchise and contract management.

Mr. Burnham, assuming the position of Chair, will be responsible for steering the committee’s strategic direction. He will be supported in this endeavour by Vice Chairs from both the majority and minority groups on the board. The identity of the minority group Chair, however, has yet to be determined.

Expressing his gratitude for the appointment, Mayor Andy Burnham stated, “It is a great honour to be asked by Mayors and Leaders from both sides of the Pennines to become the new Chair of the Rail North Committee at a crucial time for our railways. With both of our main operators under public control, there is a real opportunity to reshape the North’s railways and give long-suffering passengers here a more reliable service. That means holding the operators to account and making the case for the infrastructure the North desperately needs.”

Mr. Burnham also emphasised his commitment to advocating for a railway system in the North that matches or exceeds the quality of service found in other parts of the country. He pledged to collaborate constructively with both the rail industry and the government to achieve this goal. Furthermore, he expressed his gratitude to his predecessor, Councillor Liam Robinson, for his exceptional leadership of the committee during challenging years for the North’s railways, acknowledging the foundations laid by Robinson for future transformation.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, who has been appointed as Vice Chair, remarked, “It’s a privilege to have been appointed as a Vice Chair to the Rail North Committee. And I welcome the appointment of Mayor Burnham as Chair. Communities in the North of England want, and deserve, reliable and punctual train services. The current poor level of service is not acceptable, and it’s undermining businesses and holding back economic growth. I look forward to working with our stakeholders and partners in my new role as we work towards the transformation required to meet the understandable and increasing public expectations for the delivery of improved, reliable, inclusive, effective, and functioning rail services.”

Lord McLoughlin, Chair of Transport for the North, expressed his confidence in the newly appointed leadership roles, stating, “These are crucial leadership roles for our region, and I am more than confident that they will rise to the challenge. Their extensive background in leadership will support the Rail North Committee in performing its duties.” Lord McLoughlin also extended gratitude to Councillor Liam Robinson for his diligent work as the previous Chair, commending his steady and supportive leadership during a challenging period.

With Mayor Andy Burnham and Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe assuming their respective positions, the Rail North Committee is poised to address the pressing issues surrounding rail services and infrastructure in the region. Passengers and stakeholders alike will be eager to witness the positive impact of the new leadership in delivering improved and reliable rail services, bolstering economic growth, and meeting the growing expectations of the public.