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Daily grills rail boss on network ‘chaos’ after press office U-turn

A regional daily grilled a rail boss after a U-turn by his company’s press office over its policy of him not conducting interviews with print publications.

HTFP reported last week how the Manchester Evening News had publicly criticised Northern Rail over its failure to put managing director David Brown, pictured, up for interview with the newspaper, despite repeated requests.

The MEN’s requests came after timetable changes caused major disruption to rail services across the North of England, prompting rival papers from companies including Johnston Press, Newsquest and MEN owner Reach to launch a united #OneNorth campaign calling for government action on the issue.

The paper said last week that Northern Rail’s press office had offered the explanation that Mr Brown had done “solely broadcast” interviews.

David Brown 1

But transport reporter Charlotte Cox has now spoken to Mr Brown, and a full list of questions and answers was published on the MEN’s website yesterday afternoon.

Wrote Charlotte: “We asked for an explanation, an apology and a guarantee that the disruption – caused by a combination of factors including infrastructure delays, timetable issues and staff training problems – would not happen again.

“We also asked about the problems passengers were experiencing even before May’s new timetable and spoke more broadly about transport investment in the North.”

Apologising, Mr Brown admitted the service had “not been adequate” and told Charlotte the company was “putting all our efforts into the recovery plan and getting it sorted”.

A petition launched as part of the #OneNorth campaign now has more than 17,000 signatures.

Industry figures including MEN editor-in-chief Darren Thwaites, the paper’s political editor Jennifer Williams, Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson and Leeds Live digital development editor Samantha Gildea have also appeared on national news programmes to discuss the campaign.