The North-East has been “wiped off the map” after the government took control of Northern Rail, Newcastle’s council leader has claimed.

Nick Forbes has demanded a rethink from ministers after no representatives from the region were given a seat on a forum of experts that will advise on running trains across the North.

Conservative Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen and Darlington Council leader Heather Scott will sit on the panel, alongside the likes of Greater Manchester’s Labour mayor Andy Burnham, tasked with guiding major improvements to struggling Northern services.

But there is no place for any members of the region’s seven northern-most local councils and two combined authorities, stretching from County Durham to Northumberland, which Coun Forbes believes will severely damage hopes of new investment.

He said: “Frankly, it is an outrage that the Government can set up an advisory panel to look at the future of rail services for our area and completely overlook the North East.

“Railways were invented here, but we’ve now been wiped off the map by the Tories.

“We desperately need investment in our rail network but if we’re not even allowed into the discussions then the chances of getting the funding we need is slim to non-existent. I’m demanding a change of heart and a seat at the top table – nothing less will do.”

The panel to advise the new Northern franchise also includes politicians from Liverpool, Leeds, and Cheshire, as well as passenger representatives and industry leaders.

After Northern came under public control on March 1, the government said that reducing overcrowding would be a priority for improvement.

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, has previously called for the creation of a new organisation to run the region’s entire rail network.

He said: “These are issues that are crucially important to the entire region. I think it is important that the northern part of the region is represented as well.

“We want to work with the Tees Valley and with the rest of the North, but it is important that every area is represented.”

Northern ran a number of services to and from Teesside – including between Saltburn and Darlington, the Middlesbrough to Whitby route and between Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

But last year saw just over half of Northern services arrive at its stations on time, compared to the national average of 65 per cent.

Failings on Teesside sparked Mayor Houchen to write an angry letter to Northern last year.

The Conservative mayor said the “ultimate priority” was making sure Teesside got a reliable service which ran on time.

Mr Houchen said: “Just because the government now owns it, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work on day one. The biggest challenge we now face is how do we make sure that all of the trains timetabled are delivered and run on time so there aren’t cancellations.”

He added any Pacer trains still on the wider network needed to be removed.

“Just getting a train set that actually works and one that doesn’t involve Pacer trains has to be the target in the first 100 days,” added Mr Houchen.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald wished the board well.

“If they wanted to talk to me about it, I might have considered it but seemingly they’ve lost my phone number,” he added.

But he believed the move was an indication of wider problems on the network.

Mr McDonald said: “This is just an acknowledgement that the system is broken – and has been broken for a very long time.

“I’ve been calling for the nationalisation of the rail industry for long enough and this is a step in the right direction but it’s not the real deal.”

The Middlesbrough MP said the Operator of Last Resort was a “bizarre system” but believed the move to take control of the franchise was “not before time”.

He added: “Let’s hope they can produce a better outcome for passengers.

“They’ve got to concentrate on the here and now to make sure it works on a daily basis. That’s the first task.”

The government said an improvement plan for Northern would be developed in the first 100 days of the new franchise, with a major train cleaning programme already under way.

Transport for the North, which Coun Forbes sits on the board of, will co-manage the new Northern franchise and monitor performance alongside the DfT.