Northern Rail brought back under government control

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has ended weeks of speculation and announced that Northern Rail is to be brought back under government control.

In a statement today, he revealed that Germany-based Arriva was being stripped of the franchise five years early and the government-controlled Operator of Last Resort (OLR) will take over on March 1 under the name Northern Trains.

Earlier today Andy Burnham told talkRADIO commuters were “beyond fed up” with the service as he urged Mr Shapps to strip the company of its franchise.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester told Julia Hartley-Brewer that he hoped railways in the north of England would be put into public control to “bring some accountability” to what he said was a “failing railway”.

The lines have faced problems with punctuality and reliability after a chaotic timetable change in May 2018 saw hundreds of train cancellations each day.

Mr Burnham said: “We haven’t had a seven-day rail service for pretty much two years, it’s been a six-day service with widespread cancellations on a Sunday – so how can a city region like ours function on that basis? It can't, can it?

“But it’s more than that – every day I get emails from people stranded on platforms because the train turns ups with two carriages, they can’t get on.

“The list goes on and on, it’s been a catalogue of failure.”

He added that the poor service has not all been down to Northern Rail, blaming the “Victorian infrastructure” as well.

Northern Rail said it faced unprecedented challenges outside its “direct control” such as major infrastructure upgrades running behind schedule and delays in the delivery of new trains.

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