Latest Rail News

02.01.20

Northern Rail to be stripped of franchise

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said Northern Rail is to be stripped of its franchise following its “unacceptable” performance.

This comes off the back of a year of chaos and cancellations across the network, which runs Newcastle to Leeds, Liverpool, Hull, Manchester and Stoke. With the region covered spanning from Nottingham to Northumberland and from Stoke-on-Trent to Carlisle.

The Northern network is operated by Arriva Rail North, which is owned by the German railway, Deutsche Bahn.

Last year barely one in two Northern trains ran on time. Mr Shapps said he announced to parliament last autumn that he would begin the process to find a new operator for the Northern franchise.

“I wrote the necessary parties in this with what’s called a request for proposal. And that’s simply where you take action. There are a couple of ways that can go.

"But one is to strip a franchise, one is to have a short-term contract. But yes, exactly as you’ve said, I’m simply not prepared for the service on Northern to carry on as it is and I am taking action.”

"Over Christmas 2019, the train operator made hundreds of cancellations due to what it called “unprecedented levels of staff sickness.”

So far today (Jan 2) the day that higher fares have come into effect, Northern has cancelled at least a dozen trains, including links from Carlisle to Morpeth and Blackpool North to York.

Northern has been overwhelmed by problems, including a breakdown in industrial relations, and suffered more than most networks after their failed introduction of a new timetable in May 2018.

Northern would be the second service to be returned into public ownership under the Conservative government, following the collapse of Virgin Trains East Coast, now run as LNER under the Department for Transport’s operator of last resort.

Image: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images

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