Latest Rail News

09.01.20

Shapps: Northern only able to continue “for a number of months”

The secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, has said in a written statement to Parliament that embattled train franchise Northern “will only be able to continue for a number of months”.

Shapps wrote: “Passengers in the north have had to put up with unacceptable services for too long. We understand how frustrating this has been for people and we are taking action to make sure that performance improves.

“It has now been confirmed to me from the most recent available financial information that the franchise will only be able to continue for a number of months.”

Transport secretary Shapps announced back in October 2019 that he had concerns over the financial position of Arriva Rail North (ARN), the current franchise for Northern.

In response, he issued a request for a proposal from ARN and to the Operator of Last Resort as a way of securing options for continuing to run passenger services on the Northern franchise.

The proposal requested from ARN is now reportedly being evaluated and following completion of that process Shapps will make a decision as to whether to award ARN a short-term management contract or whether to ask the Department for Transport’s own Operator of Last Resort to step in to deliver passenger services.

Shapps has previously said on record he wanted this decision made as soon as the end of January.

Longer-term decisions on the franchise will be made in the light of the recommendations of the Williams Rail Review.

In his statement to Parliament, Shapps makes it clear that the current financial position of the Northern franchise will not impact on the railway’s day-to-day operations. Services will continue to run as normal and there will be no impact on staff.

Image credit: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images

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