142033 Northern Rail
Image Source: Richard Haughey
Jane Imrie

Rail firm Northern to come under government control after being stripped of franchise

Rail firm Northern is to be stripped of its franchise from March 1 after struggles with the efficiency of its services.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that operator Arriva Rail North will be stripped of the franchise after passengers “lost trust in the north’s rail network”.

He explained: “People across the north deserve better, their communities deserve better and I am determined to achieve that.”

From March 1, the firm’s services will be nationalised with the government-controlled Operator of Last Resort (OLR) in charge.

Commenting on the news, Mick Cash, general secretary of rail union RMT, said: “Northern has become a signal for everything that is wrong on Britain’s broken, privatised railways.

“The fact that the government have now been forced to take this action today will open the floodgates towards wholesale public ownership of our railways as other franchises fall like dominoes or simply choose to cut and run in the face of the inevitable.

“RMT will take whatever action is required to protect our members, their jobs and their conditions, caught in the crossfire of the rail franchise meltdown.

“The union will now be stepping up the campaign for the whole industry to now be brought back together as an integrated, national public service shaking off the grim legacy of 25 years of private profiteering.”

Cllr Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority transport lead, added: “Northern Leaders have long called for Government to take action to restore passenger confidence, so I welcome today’s long overdue decision to remove the Northern Rail franchise from Arriva.

“This decision represents an opportunity to restore some stability and reliability to services in the short term but will not address the fundamental issues affecting the North’s rail network.”

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