Transport expert Jones made director for NW Rail Campaign

Michael Hunt

A former member of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority and former Salford councillor, Roger Jones, will occupy the campaign director role for the North West Rail Campaign.

Established in 2003, the campaign aims to secure extra rail capacity in specific areas of the North West to unlock bottlenecks across the network and improve services to the major urban areas by influencing Government, the European Union and the railway industry to endorse direct investment into the region's rail network.

The campaign helped secure funding in a bid to build a third rail platform at Manchester Airport and influenced Network Rail to analyse capacity needs in the Manchester area.

Jones will be based at Manchester Airport. He is replacing Brian Simpson, who is focusing entirely on his role in the European Parliament.

Geoff Muirhead, group chief executive for the Manchester Airports Group and the chair of the campaign's Steering Group, commented: "52 million passengers use rail in the North West, with the vast majority being concentrated within the Mersey Belt that includes rail journeys between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bolton, Preston, Manchester Airport and Crewe."

He added: "By highlighting these issues and ensuring a co-ordinated approach between the public and private sectors we can continue to make improvements to the transport network in the North West and provide the type of rail system capable of servicing the requirements of this region. I welcome Roger's appointment as director of the campaign, to follow on from the excellent work undertaken by Brian Simpson."

The campaign is supported by several local authorities in the region, as well as Manchester Airport, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the North West Business Leadership Team, North West Development Agency, the region's two passenger transport executives and the regional leader's forum; 4NW.

Following previous research by the campaign, alleviating the problems of the Manchester hub through increased investment in infrastructure could support up to 20,000 extra jobs in the North West.

Jones became a member of the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority in 1998 and was elected as its chair in 2001.

During his time at the PTA, he campaigned for major improvements to local bus services, culminating in the publication of the government's draft Local Transport Bill. He also led the campaign for major expansion of Greater Manchester's Metrolink network and was recognised for an 'Outstanding Contribution to Local Transport' at the National Transport Awards in 2007.

He lost his Irlam seat in the May local elections before taking up his new position as the rail campaign chair.

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