Northern Rail set to be nationalised after passengers ‘lost trust’ in north’s rail network

Northern Rail will be brought under public control, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 1:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:46 pm

The decision, which will take effect from 1 March, was taken following years of major disruption on the franchise which is controlled by Arriva Rail North.

Mr Shapps said passengers had "lost trust in the north's rail network".

"People across the north deserve better, their communities deserve better and I am determined to achieve that," he added.

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Northern will be brought under public control from 1 March.

The Government-controlled Operator of Last Resort (OLR) will be put in charge of running services.

The chaotic introduction of new timetables in May 2018 saw hundreds of Northern trains a day cancelled. Punctuality and reliability problems continue to blight the network.

German-based Arriva was due to run Northern until March 2025.

The general secretary of train drivers' union ASLEF, Mick Whelan, warned the change will not see “an immediate improvement”.

He said: “There won't be an immediate improvement because many of the systemic failures at Northern - the late delivery of new rolling stock, the cancellation by the Conservative government of infrastructure upgrades, trying to run a service with too few drivers - cannot be remedied overnight."

Northern is yet to comment on the changes.

Earlier this month The Star revealed the managing director of the franchise had admitted transport in the north was “no longer acceptable” to the father of a commuter whose service was delayed by more than two hours.

Politicians in the North have also demanded answers on the future of the troubled franchise in recent weeks.