Northern trains renationalised after ‘passengers lose trust in the North’s rail network’

A Northern train at York Station. Photograph: YorkMix
29 Jan 2020 @ 2.49 pm
| News

Northern trains have been renationalised today.

As expected, transport secretary Grant Shapps brought the train operator under public control on Wednesday (29 January).

Northern, which has one of its main offices on Rougier Street in York, failed to meet passengers’ needs, Mr Shapps said.

York Central MP, and former shadow minister for rail, Rachael Maskell welcomed the move, saying:

  • I am pleased to see that the Northern franchise is being brought back under public control, as I requested when I wrote to the Secretary of State.

    It is now vital that the jobs of those working for Northern Rail are secured, my second request to him.

Another rail failure

Two failed franchises together: Virgin and Northern trains at York station in 2016
The Government-controlled Operator of Last Resort (OLR) will take over the franchise on March 1, under the name Northern Trains.

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.

Office of Rail and Road figures show just 55% of Northern trains arrived at stations within one minute of the timetable in the 12 months to January 4, compared with the average across Britain of 65%.

And only yesterday we reported how Northern was at the foot of the passenger satisfaction league.

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

The OLR already runs services on the East Coast Main Line under the LNER brand, following the failure of the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise.

Real improvement ASAP

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps passing a Northern train while visiting Leeds railway station. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Grant Shapps said he wants passengers to see “real and tangible improvements across the network as soon as possible”.

In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Shapps said:

  • 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.

He 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.”