Day of moaning declared in north of England over transport | UK news

A day of moaning has been declared across the north of England, with public transport users encouraged to let rip about their terrible journeys.

Commuters are urged to write to their MPs and flood radio and TV phone-ins on Monday to express their frustration with the region’s poor transport provision.

The event was called after the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, indicated his support for Crossrail 2, a £30bn train line across London, days after cancelling electrification projects to northern rail lines.

It was a Conservative manifesto promise to electrify the lines, with Grayling’s predecessor, Patrick McLoughlin, saying in 2015 that “the electrification programme is central to our ambitious plans to transform the rail network across the country”.

Grayling argues electrification is unnecessary because new “bi-modal” trains are capable of switching between electric and diesel operation.

The “moan-in” is organised by IPPR North, a thinktank, which calls for £59bn “catch-up cash” investment in northern transport to address the imbalance of government funding to trains and buses in London and the south-east compared with the rest of the country.

Luke Raikes, senior research fellow at IPPR North, said: “The government still hasn’t engaged with the north seriously over this issue. Instead it has tried to defend its plans by pointing to the small amount of investment it does make, or rehashing previously announced spending.

“The reality is that the government promised to fully electrify these lines. The north expects this promise to be kept.”

More than 67,000 people have signed a petition demanding Grayling pledge his immediate backing for the Northern Powerhouse Rail programme, including a new 30-minute rail link between Manchester and Leeds – a “Crossrail North”.

It also asks Grayling to give Transport for the North the same powers as those enjoyed by Transport for London, so that it can raise private finance towards its own transport priorities.

Commuters in the north are becoming increasingly frustrated by poor rail provision, suffering slow, overcrowded services on antiquated diesel trains and paying ever higher fares for the privilege. Last week it was announced that rail fares for commuters in England and Wales would increase by 3.6% from next year.

The early train down from Glasgow to Manchester airport was recently ranked the fifth most overcrowded service in the UK by the Department for Transport, with 169 passengers standing.

Suffering the journey last Thursday was Emma Meen, 31, a programme manager, from Preston. “You see people stood up just all the time all the time and you just think ‘why is it so bad?” she said.

“I travel to Leeds quite a lot, so when I go over to Leeds it’s a Northern [service] that is just gross. And that’s always packed as well. It goes up to about Bradford and then it is just rammed. It’s just dirty: when you fold the tables down they’ve always got stuff on them, there’s chewing gum on the seats, the seats look dirty, there’s mould around the windows.

“They look dirty, so when you consider you’re paying £23 or £24 to get from Preston to Leeds, and I’m sat on a dirty train … It would change everything if the north-west and the north-east were better connected.”

Chris Sutehall, 55, an operations director, was waiting for a delayed train to Manchester Piccadilly and at risk of missing her meeting. She has taken drastic measures to dodge the high prices, which have seen a walk-on return fare from Manchester to London rise to £338 during rush hour.

“I lived in Spain over the winter and it’s much cheaper for me to get from Spain to London for a meeting than it is going from the north-west,” she said.

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