Rail franchises operators & contracts

29.01.20

Northern to come under government control from March

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced troubled train operating company will be brought under government control from March 1, 2020.

The announcement comes after a final decision was reached over stripping Arriva Rail North, the legal name of the Northern rail company, of its namesake franchise following years of major disruptions.

Government previously described the delays and cancellations that have blighted Northern’s services as “unacceptable”, while the transport secretary himself said passengers had “lost trust in the rail network [in the North].”

Northern were hit particularly hard by the May timetable changes in 2018, and passengers on the franchise have suffered frequent delays and cancellations to their services ever since.

Mr Shapps wrote in a letter to Parliament about the decision: “Wherever you live, you deserve a railway that widens your children’s horizon, gives you access to highly skilled, highly paid jobs, and provides a viable green alternative to getting in your car.

“For too long, millions of rail passengers in the north of England have not had that. They have had to start and end their working day facing cancellations and delays. Some stations, particularly on Sundays, have been left without trains for hours on end.

“It’s no surprise that passengers have lost trust in the north’s rail network. The service provided by the rail network in the north has failed to meet the needs of passengers. People across the north deserve better, their communities deserve better and I am determined to achieve that.”

From March 1, 2020 the Northern franchise will come under the control of the public sector operator – also called the operator of last resort – which is entirely owned by the Department for Transport.

The operator already owns and oversees another franchise in the UK, East Coast, which is branded as London North Eastern Railway (LNER). In the nineteen months it has been operating the service, it has seen a significant increase in passenger satisfaction.

Mr Shapps added: “This is a new beginning for Northern, but it is only a beginning.

“Northern’s network is huge and complex, some of the things which are wrong are not going to be quick or easy to put right.

“Nonetheless, I am determined that Northern passengers see real and tangible improvements across the network as soon as possible.”

Image Credit:  Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images

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