142033 Northern Rail
Image Source: Richard Haughey
Jane Imrie

Northern Rail to be stripped of franchise: Reactions from the business community

Train operator Northern is set to be stripped of its rail franchise following struggles with the efficiency of its services.

The news comes as the Office of Rail and Road figures revealed that 55.6 per cent of Northern trains arrived at stations within one minute of the timetable in the 12 months to 7 December, compared with a national average of of 65.3 per cent.

Business leaders and key figures from across the country have reacted to the news.

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor

“I have been calling for Northern Rail to be stripped of its franchise for months, so I am pleased the Transport Secretary has today confirmed he is starting the process of appointing a new rail operator for the region.

“Hard-working local people rightly demand a reliable high-quality rail service and it’s been clear for far too long that Northern are simply not up to the job.

“Just last month I was forced to write to Northern’s Managing Director following their utter failure to remove all the hated Pacer trains from Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool by the end of the year as they promised to do.

“Coupled with the rail operators wholly unacceptable performance over recent months I’m pleased Grant Shapps is acting in the interest of northern travellers.”

Nigel Frith, senior market analyst at AskTraders

“Years of unacceptable service from Northern Railways, a company owned by the German railway Deutsche Bahn, has led to its fall from grace.

“The introduction of a new timetable without planned infrastructure improvements and without sufficiently trained drivers in 2018 was the nail in the coffin for Northern Railway.

“Whilst the Treasury Secretary said he will strip Northern Railway of its franchise the reality is that this will not be a swish of a magic wand and all is well.

“The government is just as much to blame as Northern Railway and passengers are likely to continue to suffer for the foreseeable future. I hope for their sake I’m wrong!”

More to follow.

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