Barely half the trains on the line between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle ran on time last month – and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed he was taking action
Northern Rail will be renationalised, the government confirmed today after years of complaints about chaos on the network.
The firm which runs trains between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull, Newcastle and more will be stripped of its franchise on March 1st.
It will then be taken into public ownership and the Government will begin running services through the so-called operator of last resort.
Making the announcement Transport Secretary Grant 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.”
Earlier this month Mr Shapps announced that the Northern franchise was no longer financially sustainable.
It is the latest rail renationalisation after Virgin Trains was replaced by Avanti on the West Coast main line last month. Mr Shapps has also warned South Western Railway could lose its franchise.
The decision is likely to welcomed by northern leaders who have long complained about delays and poor performance on the line – which spiralled when new timetables launched in 2018.
Mr Shapps acknowledged: “Today’s announcement will inevitably raise questions about the future of rail privatisiation.
“Over the past twenty years privatisation has reversed over two decades of declining passenger numbers and passenger journeys have almost doubled to nearly 2 billion.
“However, it is clear that the current model is now struggling to deliver.
“Across the country a number of franchises are failing to provide the reliable services that passengers require.
“We know change is needed, and it is coming.
“The Williams Review is looking at reforms across the railway to ensure customers are at the heart of the system.”
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The line is run by Arriva, owned by German state-owned DeutchesBahn, and has been involved in a long-running dispute over the role of guards.
Between December 8 and January 4, just 51.4% of Northern Rail trains arrived on time – with at least a quarter running more than three minutes late.
3% ran at least 15 minutes late and 7.3% were cancelled altogether.
In his statement Mr Shapps spoke of a commitment to deal with overcrowding and cancellations – particularly on Sundays.
Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the north of England, said: “I am delighted that my calls to ‘Sack Northern’ have finally been listened to by this Conservative government.
“For far too long, people across the north of England have suffered a substandard service.
“However, this is just the first step on a long road to improving the trains across the north.
“The Conservatives must now reverse their cancellations of the electrification of the Lakes Line and the Trans-Pennine line.
“It must press on with HS2, while increasing transparency and accountability of this project.
“It must also approve the new Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester and Leeds and publish the Williams Review, implementing its recommendations as a matter of urgency.
“Sacking Northern will not fix the problems with our railways overnight and Liberal Democrats will continue to hold the Tories to account on their delivery of rail services across the north and the rest of the UK.”
Source: UK Mirror