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Corbyn crosses country by train to champion investment in northern rail

The Labour leader travelled from Liverpool to Hull.

Jeremy Corbyn has made his way across the country by train, as he pledged to improve services for northern commuters.

The Labour leader started his day at Liverpool Lime Street before travelling to Manchester, Leeds and Hull, as Labour hit out at what it dubbed “Tory rail mayhem”.

He posed for dozens of selfies with commuters as he stopped at stations and met campaigners and politicians, as well as speaking to regional media.

Mr Corbyn, who set off from Merseyside shortly before 10am on Monday and was expected to arrive in Hull at about 3pm, travelled the proposed route of Crossrail for the North to highlight Labour’s plans for rolling renationalisation of the railways.

Speaking when he arrived at Liverpool Lime Street from London, he said: “The railways are not in a great state and the situation is that the vast majority of investment goes to London and the South East, not to the North.

“I’ve just come from London. Great train, took two hours from London Euston to Lime Street, that’s over 200 miles.

“It’s going to take me about three hours to get to Hull with a number of changes on the way.

“What we’re saying is it’s time for investment for Crossrail for the North, a fully electrified, efficient service linking all the Northern cities.”

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Jeremy Corbyn and Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram at Liverpool Lime Street Station (Peter Byrne/PA)

In Manchester, he appeared to be drinking a Starbucks coffee as he smiled at photographers through the window of a Northern Rail Pacer train bound for Leeds.

The final stretch of the journey saw a 15-minute wait for the political leader on the platform of Leeds station as late-running trains from Manchester delayed the Transpennine Express service.

Mr Corbyn voiced his support for keeping guards on trains, as proposals for driver-only trains have led to industrial disputes.

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Coffee break at Manchester Victoria Station (Peter Byrne/PA)

He spoke to passenger Patricia Russell, who was travelling to Bradford, who said: “I’d like to think they were going to keep our guards, hopefully.”

Mr Corbyn replied: “There should be staff on trains, it’s just not safe without them.”

Labour said there had been a 50% increase in the number of trains that are cancelled or significantly late since 2010 and overcrowding had risen more than 25% on the top 10 most packed peak routes.

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With Patricia Russell and family en route to Leeds (Peter Byrne/PA)

Mr Corbyn said: “Labour will end this rip-off and bring our railways into public ownership so they are run in the interests of passengers, not private profit.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are spending over £13 billion through to 2020 to transform transport across the North – the biggest investment any government in history has ever made.

“We are committed to northern investment, which is why we are investing £3 billion upgrading the TransPennine route and providing an extra 500 carriages with space for 40,000 extra passengers and 2,000 additional services each week.

“The Government is also committed to developing Northern Powerhouse Rail – we have given Transport for the North £60 million to develop proposals for the scheme, alongside £300 million to ensure HS2 can accommodate future NPR services. Transport for the North is currently working to produce a business case for Northern Powerhouse by the end of 2018.”

The DfT said employee numbers in train companies had risen by 47% in the past two decades, while according to Southern, there were now more staff on their trains than in 2015, following the 2017 move from on-board conductors to on-board supervisors.

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Jeremy Corbyn waits for a Hull train at Leeds Station (Peter Byrne/PA)

Robert Nisbet, regional director of the Rail Delivery Group – the organisation that represents the public and private rail partnership, said: “There is no simple answer to the complex challenges the railway is facing, but the lesson from the last two decades is the private sector working with the public sector has a vital role to play in the solution.

“We must look afresh at the way the railway is run and regulated to help unleash a new generation of innovation, investment and working in partnership for our customers, as well as local communities and the UK economy.”

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