RENATIONALISATION is the long-term solution to improving East Lancashire's railway services, a senior figure has claimed.

Blackburn with Darwen Council regeneration boss and Transport for the North board member, Cllr Phil Riley, said it was important to work with Northern Rail to improve services in the short term.

But in order to fix the problem permanently, Cllr Riley said renationalisation was the way forward.

Speaking after a TfN board meeting to discuss the matter, Cllr Riley said: "We had the opportunity to talk to the minister of state, Mr Grayling and his sidekick, Mr Johnson.

"We conveyed to [transport secretary] Chris Grayling and Jo Johnson the dismay from local authorities and political leaders in the north.

"There was a little bit of reassurance that some of the steps Northern has taken have started to improve the situation slightly but it is still early days.

"There's a great deal of concern about the Lakes line being shut.

"We had half an hour with [Northern Rail chief executive] David Brown and we were able to impress on him our wider displeasure about the way this has been handled.

"For me, there's a long term and a short term view. 

"The short term is that we have to expect Northern to solve some of the problems between themselves and Network Rail they have created.

"There are some very big steps being planned - one being a return to the May 20 timetable.

"There are also further timetable changes planned for December.

"As a group, we made it clear we wanted serious involvement in that decision in terms of making sure this mess doesn't happen again.

"In the long run, this is no way to run a really important railway operation.

"The split between Network Rail and the operators never made any sense.

"Nothing that has happened since then would make me think a move towards renationalising the railways would be a bad idea."

John Cridland, chairman of Transport for the North, said: “As the voice of northern communities, we are standing up for passengers and businesses who have been let down.

"We’ve seen first-hand the distress that this disruption has caused and the very real impact this has on peoples’ lives.

“Our immediate focus must be on giving passengers the reliable rail service they deserve.

"Whilst the interim timetable has allowed passengers to better plan their journeys and there are tentative signs of improvement, we recognise that there are still too many delays, cancellations and overcrowded trains.

“We have been absolutely clear in what we expect of Northern: that passengers see an improvement in their experience of travelling by train as soon as possible.

“Northern has assured our members that the interim measures taken are allowing them to work towards delivering a restored timetable service by the end of July.

“We now call for a detailed compensation package for those affected. This should certainly include season ticket holders. The board also recognised and discussed the losses suffered by passengers and businesses.

“The very prosperity of the North of England depends on a resilient and reliable transport network. We remain united in pursuing solutions to the current crisis which delivers this for northern citizens.”