Manchester City Council

Ghost Train

Don't go to many book launches, indeed don't get invited to many book launches, but was delighted to trot down to the Anthony Burgess Foundation last night for the launch of the latest book from Crumpsall's biggest publisher, Hic Dragones ( here be dragons? ). They specialise in " dark " tales and the new book, Hauntings, edited by Crumpsall resident Hannah Kate, is a collection of twenty one ghostly tales with contributors from all over the world. The readings at the launch certainly wetted my appetite ( although a glass of wine probably helped too ) and will be top of my reading list when I take a break from the office later this month. Run by Hannah and her partner Rob, great to see another example of culture flourishing in North Manchester, and you can get your own copy of the new publication by logging on to hic-dragones.co.uk .

Been spending a lot of time on railways recently, the subject that is, though I've also spent more time than I would like travelling on them. Not HS2, though there is still a lot of work to be done on that, but on Rail North and what is being referred to somewhat inaccurately as HS3, as even a new 125mph rail route doesn't qualify as high speed. More on " HS3 " next week but a brief comment now on Rail North following a Rail North Leaders Forum meeting yesterday. Both northern rail franchises are going through a tendering process at the moment and Rail North was originally set up by all the north and north midlands' local authorities with the aim of the franchises being devolved, northern rail being run in the north, by the north, for the north. We're not quite in that position yet but through Rail North we have been able to embed officers in the Department of Transport to work with civil servants on the franchising process. Our aim is fairly simple - more and better trains providing more and better services. Whether we will succeed or not remains to be seen, but I am convinced that Rail North has given local authorities working together across the north, far more chance of influencing rail services in the region than we would otherwise have had.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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